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Housing

Rising numbers of single mothers are being made homeless

Research by charity Shelter showed that 92 per cent of single-parent families made homeless were headed by women

The UK housing crisis is disproportionately affecting single mothers, homelessness charity Shelter has claimed.

The charity’s research shows that 92 per cent of single-parent families which became homeless were headed by women.

It found that 66 per cent of all families in England accepted by their local councils as homeless involved single mothers with dependent children, despite only making up 22 per cent of the general population.

Shelter CEO Polly Neate said: “We’re deeply concerned by the number of single parents – most of whom are women – being tipped into homelessness by our housing emergency. It is simply not right to allow families to suffer in this way.

“Balancing work and childcare can be difficult for any parent – add to that wildly unaffordable private rents, and the chronic shortage of social homes, and it’s no surprise so many are struggling to keep a roof over their children’s heads.”

The study also noted that the number of single parents becoming homeless is particularly high, with one in every 55 single parents forced onto the streets or into temporary housing last year. Contrastingly, only 1 in 438 couples with children became homeless.

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A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said in response to the charity’s figures: “We are working to ensure people are not left without anywhere to go and we are spending over £1.2bn to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, as well as implementing the most ambitious legislative reform in decades, the Homelessness Reduction Act.”

The government pointed to the £617m Flexible Homelessness Support Grant funding which they say is intended for local authorities to “use strategically to prevent and tackle homelessness in their area”.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire also marked World Homeless Day by announcing a £20m Private Rented Sector Access Fund to help local authorities find private-sector rented homes for 9,000 people.

The number of female single parents recorded as homeless has seen a 48 per cent increase between 2009 and 2017 – from 17,950 to 26,610. The data was sourced from the English Housing Survey 2016-17 and analysed by Shelter.

There are 160,000 homeless households in Britain, as estimated by charity Crisis, with rough sleeping forecast to rise by 76 per cent in the next decade “unless the government takes action to tackle it”.

A 2015 study conducted by Crisis found that the financial cost of a single person sleeping rough for one year is £20,128 compared to £1,426 for successful intervention.

The Shelter CEO added: “As our new strategy makes clear, Shelter’s first priority is to fight for every family whose fundamental right to a home is denied or under threat.”

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