The number of homeless households in England has risen by a quarter in the last three years, new figures show. Daybreak's Megan Boot reports.
– Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn
This surge in homelessness has been caused by a perfect storm of a double-dip recession made in Downing Street and sharp falls in housebuilding.
The Government's own figures show that social house completions dropped 97% in 2011/12 compared to the year before, and affordable housing by 68%.
That's why over the last two quarters the construction industry has contracted by 5% each quarter, a major reason that we are back in recession.
To help bring homelessness down and get the economy moving, the Government should use funds raised from a tax on bank bonuses to build thousands of affordable homes.
– A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government
These figures are a narrow and misleading snapshot. The bigger picture is that homelessness is actually lower than for 28 of the last 30 years - and is half the average rate seen under the previous government.
We have maintained funding for homelessness grants at 2010/11 levels with £400 million over the next four years, and on top of that we announced an additional £70 million investment over the last year.
Our strong safety net of support is keeping thousands of vulnerable people off the street and we are determined to take every opportunity to build on this."
– Judy Aldred, managing director of SSentif
Whilst these figures are perhaps not surprising given the state of the economy, some of the results for specific councils are quite shocking.
By analysing the data at council level we were able to highlight some areas that are showing much greater increases than the national average.
We were also able to cross-reference the data with spending on homelessness, which dropped in England from £213.7 million to £199.8 million between 2009/10 and 2010/11.
In Birmingham, where homelessness increased 25% from 2009/10 to 2010/11, spend dropped from £7.8 million to £5.5 million (29%).
The largest regional increase was in Birmingham, with 3,929 households requiring emergency accommodation - an increase of 558 cases compared with 2009/10.
It was closely followed by Sheffield, which reported 1,383 households as homeless - an increase of 437 people (46%) on 2009/10.
London boroughs Croydon, Lambeth, Waltham Forest, Hounslow and Kensington and Chelsea, as well as Northampton and Leeds, were also among the areas with the highest increases in homeless households.
The area with the largest percentage increase was Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, which reported 119 households as homeless in 2011/12, compared with just one case in 2009/10.
This was followed by Maidstone Council, with the number of homeless households rising from seven in 2009/10 to 189 in 2011/12 - a 2,800% increase.
West Berkshire, Middlesbrough, Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, Guildford, Elmbridge and Spelthorne in Surrey, and Torridge in Devon were also among the areas with the highest percentage increases in households declared homeless.
The 1996 Housing Act refined and expanded the definition of a household in 'priority need' so as to include:
- A pregnant woman
- Dependent children
- Someone vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reason
- Someone homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster
This was expanded further still in England by the 2002 Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order to include those:
- Aged 16 and 17 years old
- Aged under 21 years old who were in local authority care between the ages of 16 and 18
- Aged 21 and over who are vulnerable as a result of leaving local authority care
- Vulnerable as a result of leaving the armed forces
- Vulnerable as a result of leaving prisoner
- Fleeing domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence
- Last year alone saw 6,130 more households in England left homeless in 2011/12 - a rise of almost 14%, according to figures from SSentif.
- Regionally, the highest percentage increase was the East of England, with the number of cases rising from 3,660 in 2009/10 to 5,270 in 2011/12 - a 44% increase.
- The South East has seen a 38% rise in the number of households without a home, with 5,320 cases in 2011/12 compared with 3,870 in 2009/10.
- London had a 34% rise in the number of homeless households, to 12,720 cases in 2011/12 from 9,460 in 2009/10.
Local housing authorities have a legal duty to provide emergency accommodation for "priority need" groups left without a home, says the new report.
They include households with dependent children, pregnant women, vulnerable people with a mental illness or physical disability, victims of domestic violence and people left without homes due to a disaster such as fire or flooding.
Priority need categories also include applicants aged 16 or 17; 18 to 20-year-olds who were previously in care; people left vulnerable as a result of time spent in care, in custody, or the armed forces, and those who have fled their homes because of violence or the threat of violence.
The number of homeless households in England has risen by a quarter in the last three years, new figures show.
Some 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless and in need of emergency accommodation in 2011/12, compared with 40,020 in 2009/10 - an increase of more than 25%.
But despite the rise in the number of cases, spending on tackling homelessness fell from £213.7 million to £199.8 million between 2009/10 and 2010/11, data experts SSentif said.