MORE than 80,000 homeless households were languishing in temporary accommodation at the end of 2018, up 5% on the previous year, according to the latest official figures.
The statutory homelessness statistics covering the final quarter of 2018, released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) reveal the “stark reality” of what has become a homelessness crisis, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).
“It is quite simply a national disgrace that over 124,000 children are stuck in temporary accommodation, including B&Bs,” said Gavin Smart, the CIH’s deputy chief executive. “The Government must make sure that councils have the resources they need to properly support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“But ultimately, we will never truly tackle this issue without addressing our chronic shortage of affordable housing and making sure the welfare system properly supports people on lower incomes.
“We need to start building many more of the right homes, in the right places, at the right prices. For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent, but our analysis shows that more than 165,000 homes for social rent were lost between 2012 and 2018.”
The key points of the latest figures include:
- Between October to December 2018, 61,410 households were initially assessed as owed a prevention or relief under the new statutory homelessness duties. Down 8.3% from 66,960 households in the previous quarter
- 33,020 households were initially assessed as owed a prevention duty, down 11.3% from 37,230 in the previous quarter. 28,400 households were initially assessed as owed a relief duty, down 4.4% from 29,720 in July to September
- Between October and December 2018, 6,690 households were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty. This increased 4.3% from 6,410 during July to September
- On 31st December 2018 the number of households in temporary accommodation was 83,700, up 5.0% from 79,720 on 31st December 2017
- Between October and December 2018, prevention and relief duties ended for 30,330 households by securing accommodation for 6 months or more. This is up 21.9% from 24,880 the previous quarter
Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson said: “Many councils are struggling to cope with rising homelessness and to find suitable accommodation for those in need.
“The increasing use of temporary accommodation is not only financially unsustainable for councils but is hugely disruptive for those families placed in such accommodation.
“Every instance of homelessness is an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place and support families affected.
“With homelessness services facing a funding gap of more than £100 million in 2019/20 and £421 million by 2024/25, the Government needs to use its upcoming Spending Review to sustainably fund homelessness prevention.”
“Councils also need to keep 100% of Right to Buy receipts to re-invest in genuinely affordable homes, set discounts locally, and adapt welfare reforms to prevent people from losing their home.”
Alex Cunningham MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “The shameful rise in homeless children stuck in temporary accommodation will be the legacy of this failed Conservative Government.
“Rising homelessness is a crisis of the Tories’ own making as we’ve seen investment in the number of low-cost homes to buy and rent tumble. Add to that cuts in housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services and a private rental sector lacking any real protections and we know why so many are being let down.
“Labour will end rough sleeping and tackle the root cause of homelessness. We’ll equip local authorities to build thousands of homes where they’re needed, address the high cost of land, build more affordable homes and provide the protections private renters need.”