Housing

Councils are struggling to house soaring numbers of homeless people

78,000 homeless households in England are currently in temporary accommodation

Social housing. Image: Eastern promise #4: Plaistow by Nico Hogg

Social housing. Image: Eastern promise #4: Plaistow by Nico Hogg

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

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'
Homelessness

Beat the Streets music festival funds new homes for rough sleepers: 'If we could do more, we would'

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?
rents uk
Renting

Rents in UK are rising at highest rate in decades. Will they keep going up?

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives
rough sleeping and temporary accommodation in Scotland is under the spotlight on Buchanan Street in Glasgow
homelessness

Scotland needs real-time rough sleeping count to save lives

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know