"This is a direct result of ten years of the Conservatives."
There’s been a surge in the number of classed as either homeless or threatened with homelessness, according to new government figures.
Campaigners have reacted with anger at ‘inaction’ on homelessness and social house building, following the news from the Office for National Statistics of a 11.4% increase in homelessness or potential evictions. The number of households assessed by Local Authorities as homeless/at risk now sits at 68,170 this quarter.
Nearly 31,000 households in this category – 45% – have one or more ‘support needs’. The most common support need is a history of mental health problems, accounting for 14,950 households or 21.9% of households owed homelessness support.
One in five homelessness cases were the result of a tenancy ending in the private rented sector, and 1 in 10 (6930) were the result of landlord selling or reletting, evicting a tenant who was not at fault, according to analysis by Generation Rent.
These figures also show that there are currently 127,370 children are living in temporary accommodation – often suffering cramped and dangerous conditions, with some families having to share a single room.
Caitlin Wilkinson, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at Generation Rent, said:
“To tackle homelessness and deliver on Boris Johnson’s pledge to end rough sleeping, the Government must prioritise giving renters security through ending section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and cracking down on criminal landlords who illegally evict tenants. Tenants also need greater protections if landlords choose to sell or move back into their properties.”
“No child should have to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation – but we know that temporary accommodation is often anything but, with many families trapped in unsuitable housing for months or even years, due to a severe shortage of council housing. The Government must urgently build more council and social housing to meet this demand and ensure all families have a home of their own.”
There is a new duty for public bodies to refer those at risk of being made homeless to support services, and monitoring is reportedly improving. But the figures nonetheless reveal the scale of the problem to be dealt with.
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, said:
“The national shame of high and rising homelessness this Christmas is a direct result of ten years of the Conservatives.
“There’s no more powerful reminder of the need for a Labour government than the homelessness we now see in every town and city in our country.
“We will continue to hold the Tories hard to account for their decisions which are making this problem worse and to make the case for change.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:
“The continuing rise in homeless households shows that this Conservative Government’s approach just isn’t working. It is simply unacceptable.
“We urgently need to take a more compassionate and holistic approach, across government, to tackling this crisis in our communities. Given the clear connection between a history of mental health problems and homelessness, any solution must involve better mental health provision.
“We also need to scrap the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which continues to criminalise rough sleeping for those who fall through the safety net and end up on the streets.
“As Christmas approaches and the weather gets colder, I hope this serves as a wake-up call to the Tories. We can and must do better.”
Statutory Homelessness, April to June (Q2) 2019: England figures can be found here. The Lib Dems’ Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill 2017-19 can be found here.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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