Councils in England are increasingly unable to house homeless people, resulting in soaring numbers of those left trapped in temporary and often unsuitable accommodation. This is according to an annual report from homeless charity Crisis, in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The two charities reported that 70 per cent of local authorities experienced difficulties finding social housing for homeless people last year, while 89 per cent reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.
The report warns that 78,000 homeless households in England are currently in temporary accommodation rising to more than 100,000 by 2020 if figures continue to grow.
But the problem of rising homelessness pressures is not limited to the country’s capital.
Three quarters of councils in the Midlands, 70 per cent in the south and 62 per cent in the north said the number of people seeking help from their homelessness services had risen over the last year, compared to 40 per cent of councils in London.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said a lack of social housing was to blame: “Today’s report makes it clear that, unless we take action as a society, this problem will only keep getting worse. Homelessness is not inevitable and our research has shown how it can become a thing of the past.
Homeless people’s access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness
In the report, the councils surveyed reported a growing reluctance among landlords to rent to people on welfare. Lead author on the report, Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick said:
“The options are narrowing for local authorities charged with preventing and resolving homelessness, as benefit-reliant households are entirely priced out of the private rented sector in some parts of the country.
“At the same time, homeless people’s access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness about letting to households whose incomes are now so very low that even properties let at social rents can be unaffordable to them.”
While the government’s recent actions on tackling homelessness including the Homelessness Reduction Act and Sajid Javid’s Rough Sleeping Implementation Taskforce are welcome, the charities argue that more must be done urgently and say the upcoming Green Paper on social housing is an important opportunity to make a commitment to build more affordable houses in England.
Announcing the Green Paper back in September last year, Javid claimed the paper would “kick off a nationwide conversation on social housing”.
Main image: Nico Hogg