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Housing

The number of homeless pensioners is the highest it's been for a decade

More than 2,500 people aged 60 and over were accepted as homeless at the start of this year – up 40 per cent since 2013

Homeless man sleeping on bench

The number of pensioners being accepted as homeless has skyrocketed by 40 per cent in five years, according to new figures.

A total of 2,520 people aged 60 and over were classed as ‘without a safe and secure home last year’ – the highest number for over a decade.

The government figures for January to March of this year also uncovered a 54 per cent rise in single parent families forced to turn to temporary accommodation.

There has been a three per cent increase on the number of families waiting for a permanent place to stay with 79,880 altogether in hostels and B&Bs. This figure has risen by 56 per cent since the onset of austerity measures in 2010.

The total number of those living in B&Bs had actually fallen by 10 per cent to 5,940, but is still up a staggering 190 per cent from the levels seen eight years ago.

Responding to the figures, Polly Neate, Shelter CEO, said: “It’s clear that our country is in the firm grip of a housing crisis as these figures starkly show, with older people and single parents both bearing the brunt. If we want to protect more people from the ravages of homelessness, the government must come up with a bold new plan for social housing and in the short term, ensure housing benefit covers the actual cost of rents.”

But it is not just the elderly and single-parent families that are at risk of homelessness.  The statistical release also highlighted non-violent breakdown of a relationship with a partner, naming it the fifth-most common reason for loss of last settled home.

Chris Sherwood, chief executive at relationship support charity Relate, has proposed for councils to offer free relationship counselling to tackle the issue.

“It’s good to see local authorities taking positive steps to prevent homelessness such as finding temporary accommodation for at risk groups, but we also need to pay closer attention to the root causes,” he said. “With non-violent relationship breakdown being the fifth most common cause of homelessness, local authorities should consider offering free relationship counselling to families and individuals who may be at risk if they haven’t already done so.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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