Government statistics show that growing numbers of people are finding themselves homeless at the end of privately rented tenancies
Homelessness has risen by six per cent in the last year, according to troubling statistics published today.
The figures, released in the government’s quarterly Statutory Homelessness report, show that between 1 October and 31 December 2014, 13,650 households were accepted for housing assistance facing the loss of a home, up six per cent from the same period in 2013. This included 2,440 foreign nationals.
The report also showed a soaring number of people becoming homeless due to the end of assured shorthold tenancies with private landlords. In England 30 per cent of acceptances to housing assistance were due to the ending of a shorthold tenancy, an increase from 25 per cent in the same quarter of 2013. The ending of an assured shorthold tenancy has been the most frequently occurring reason for the loss of last settled home for the last eleven consecutive quarters
Matt Downie, director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, said:
“Today’s figures show a troubling 6% rise in homelessness compared to the same time last year, with soaring numbers of people becoming homeless following the loss of a privately rented home.
“More and more people are struggling to pay their rent in an increasingly insecure private rented sector. We know from our own research that housing benefit cuts are a central driver of this trend, with more than half of councils fearing worse is yet to come in the next two years.
“This must be a wake-up call for all political leaders: the housing crisis will not solve itself. We desperately need more affordable homes as well as political action to fix our broken private rented sector. At the same time, we must have a safety net that genuinely reflects the reality of renting.”
The report emphasises that its definition of homelessness does not always mean people who are sleeping rough, but covers those who are statutorily homeless: people who ‘do not have accommodation that they have a legal right to occupy, which is accessible and physically available to them (and their household) and which it would be reasonable for them to continue to live in.’
The situation is worse in London than in the rest of the UK. Between 1 October and 31 December 2014 4,690 households were accepted for housing assistance, up eight per cent from 4,350 during the same quarter a year earlier. The ending of an assured shorthold tenancy accounted for 39 per cent of London cases. This increased from 35 per cent in the corresponding quarter in 2013.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.