Number of homeless families up by almost 1,000 in three months

An increase in  homeless figures is “nothing short of a tragedy,” a charity has said after a Government report showed the number of households in temporary accommodation has surged by 65 per cent since 2010.

Local authorities accepted 15,290 households as being statutorily homeless between 1 July and 30 September, up 6 per cent from 14,390 on the previous quarter.

It is also an increase of 2 per cent from 14,930 on the same quarter of last year.

Across England, on September 30, the number of households in temporary accommodation was 79,190, up 6% from the same date last year – and a 65% increase from a low point of 48,010 on December 31 2010.

Of those 79,190 households, 61,090 included dependent children and/or a pregnant woman, within which there were 121,360 children or expected children.

Some 132 households with children were former residents of Grenfell Tower or Grenfell Walk, within which there were 261 children, the report said.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said in a statement sent to The Independent: “Knowing that nearly 80,000 households will find themselves homeless and living in temporary accommodation this Christmas is nothing short of a tragedy.

“Temporary accommodation is often cramped, unsuitable, and sometimes even dangerous, and no place for anyone to call home.”

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The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) report said that between July and September, 214 homeless acceptances were reported by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk.

It said acceptances were not reported in the second quarter of 2017 because the household level information still needed to be collected and processed. There were a further 181 households living in temporary accommodation from areas surrounding the Tower and Walk.

Of the total 395 affected households, 300 were living in hotels, 75 households were in self-contained and serviced apartments, nine were living with friends and family under their own temporary arrangements and 11 had moved into permanent settled accommodation, the report said.
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Paul Noblet, head of public affairs for Centrepoint, said: “We’re facing a crisis in homelessness and these worrying figures provide only a limited picture of a much larger problem. We know thousands more young people are approaching their councils for help, data which the government chooses not to collect.”

He added: “Young people not much older than many of our children and grandchildren are being confronted with impossible choices that no one should have to make.

“Homelessness does not need to define a young person’s life if they receive the support they need at the right time.”

Across England, local authorities also took action to prevent and relieve homelessness for 52,190 households between July and September 2017, down 1 per cent on 52,880 in the same quarter of 2016.

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Please help us tackle urgent problems of homelessness and destitution

Homeless man in London
 Homelessness and destitution feel increasingly visible and distressing. 

Homelessness and destitution are increasingly visible and distressing to many of us. In England, the official data shows that all forms of homelessness have soaredover the past few years, and some experts feel these figures underestimate the scale of the problem. The danger is that we become hardened to the enormity of the presence of rough sleepers huddled in shop doorways, in tents, or on night buses, and unwittingly neglectful of the tens of thousands of hidden homeless squatting on friends’ sofas.

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For young people in the UK who find themselves without anywhere to live – perhaps they have left the family home after a relationship breakdown, or to escape abuse, or have left care – it is far too easy to become trapped in a chain of misfortune, with little help from the state. Sofa-surfing can lead to rough sleeping, and even more desperate ways to survive. This way of life is precarious, toxic and dangerous – it corrodes health, confidence and spirit, undermines friendships, damages job and education prospects, and arrests the transition to a more secure adulthood that luckier young people might take for granted.

Young people are at a higher risk of homelessness than adults, and when they find themselves in crisis are too often overlooked by hard-pressed council homelessness departments. Each year officials turn away tens of thousands of homeless young people because they do not qualify for assistance. The group with the highest chance of becoming destitute are men aged under 25. The stripping away of housing benefit entitlement for 18-21 year olds – one of a number of social security cuts affecting young people – will potentially put thousands in jeopardy.

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It’s so sad that some media can make fun of the homeless and destitute

For some time, destitution has been a harsh reality for asylum seekers, migrants and refugees who are unable to access mainstream accommodation and support. Delays in the asylum and appeals process can leave them in limbo for years without money, shelter and advice. In the words of Adanech, a refugee forced to leave the house she was staying in after being refused asylum: “I stayed in a church in Sheffield. Then I stayed with friends in Oldham. Sometimes I stayed in the bus station. One time I stayed in a phone box. It was a bad time.” It was a charity that gave Adanech a place to live while she re-applied for asylum, a charity that ensured she was warm, safe and had food to eat.

The three fantastic charities we are supporting in this year’s appeal do vital work with young people and homeless asylum seekers to help them find safe and secure shelter and, then, to support them in establishing a more secure and independent future.

 Centrepoint is one of the UK’s best known youth homelessness charities. It provides a safe place to live, together with health, education and employment advice and support to more than 9,000 16-25 year olds each year. It has specialist services for single parents, care leavers, and young people escaping violence and abuse, and runs a confidence-building sports programme for homeless youngsters.

 Depaul UK runs the Nightstop network, a growing network of local services across the UK. It draws on a pool of volunteers who provide, often at short notice, a room for the night for homeless young people. Last year 600 vetted and trained volunteer hosts in the network’s 34 services provided a bed, a hot meal, a shower and a listening ear for 1,390 youngsters who otherwise might have been sleeping in unsafe places.

 The No Accommodation Network (Naccom) is a charity representing more than 40 charities and projects operating across the country. Naccom’s members specialise in providing shelter and support to destitute asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have no recourse to public funds, either by running accommodation or setting up local volunteer hosting networks. Last year its members helped nearly 2,000 people. Naccom will use its share of the Guardian and Observer appeal donations to capacity-build the network and support frontline projects via a selective grants process that will be open to its full members.

The work these charities do is inspiring, but we should not forget that it happens against a backdrop of shrinking public services, a multitude of cuts to social security benefits, rising poverty, a drastic shortage of affordable housing, and hostel closures. The Guardian supports the vital work that volunteers and campaigners do to mitigate homelessness and destitution; we will also continue to report on the causes of homelessness and destitution, and urge policy change that will solve it.

Over the last two Guardian and Observer charity appeals, readers have shown exceptional generosity, compassion and solidarity by raising £2.6m and £1.75mrespectively for a total of nine brilliant refugee charities. Over the next few weeks we will be showcasing this year’s charities through words, pictures and film. We hope we can persuade you once more to give generously. Help us break the chain of homelessness.

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128,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless on Christmas day

The number of homeless children in Britain is at its highest level in a decade, shocking new research reveals.

Around 128,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless on Christmas day or housed in temporary accommodation, while a further 140 families are becoming homeless every day, according to a shocking new report.

Research by the homeless charity Shelter reveals that one in every 111 children are currently homeless, as the nationwide shortage in genuinely affordable homes has contributed to the highest numbers of homeless children in a decade.

61% of families supported by Shelter in 2017 were either homeless or on the brink of losing their home, with many children and their parents living in B&B’s and emergency hostels.

Living in unsuitable accommodation can cause a deterioration in both a child’s physical and mental well-being. Shelter heard from children who said they felt anxious, afraid and ashamed of their circumstances – some had even contemplated suicide.

Twins Ellie and Amy, aged 15, are currently homeless and living in a small Bed and Breakfast room. They have no access to a kitchen and have to share bathroom facilities and a bed.

Amy said: “We’re living in a B&B. It’s a small room with five people living in it. It’s got one double bed and one single bed. It’s not even a proper bed… it’s a camp bed. Three people sleep in the double bed with one person at the bottom and two people at the top. And two in the single bed. I sleep next to my brother, he kicks. My mum talks in her sleep.

“There’s a tiny toilet with a shower but my brother doesn’t like showers because he’s autistic, so he has to bathe in a bucket. He stands in it and mum tips a cup over him. He screams if you try and put him in the shower.”

Ellie said: “It’s hard to concentrate at school because there’s the worry about coming home. It’s just stressful. There’s nowhere we can relax or get any privacy.

“Before it was much better. We had our own home right near school and right near our friends. We all had our own rooms and a cooker and a fridge. We could eat proper meals.

“I just want it to be like it was before.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s a national scandal that this year the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year since 2011. No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone 128,000 children.

“Many of us will spend Christmas day enjoying all of the festive traditions we cherish, but sadly it’ll be a different story for the children hidden away in cramped B&Bs or hostel rooms.

“Imagine living in a noisy strange place full of people you don’t know, and waking up exhausted from having no choice but to share a bed with your siblings or parents.

“That’s why our frontline advisers will continue to work tirelessly, including on Christmas day, to help more families fighting homelessness. But we can’t do this alone. We’re asking people to help a homeless family and make giving to Shelter their new Christmas tradition.”

To support Shelter’s Christmas appeal, please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.

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More UK children homeless or in temporary housing than during crash crisis

Estimated 128,000 children are without a home – more than were in the same situation in 2007 – says Shelter report

Sandra Rumkiene and her daughter Jessica in sheltered housing in south-west London
 Sandra Rumkiene and her daughter Jessica in sheltered housing in south-west London.

More children are homeless or living in temporary accommodation than at any time since the 2007-08 financial crash, with many sharing a single room with their entire family and with nothing to cook on.

An estimated 128,000 children are facing such conditions, which the housing charity Shelter says is “a national scandal”. It estimates that 140 families become homeless every day.

One father the charity interviewed described how he lived in a motorway Travelodge with his 16-month-old son and had to heat up jars of food in the kettle, because there was no other cooking option.

Nearly 130,000 children will wake up homeless this Christmas as child homelessness reaches 10-year high

A 17-year-old girl said her parents and three siblings lived in one room for four months.

“Three people sleep in the double bed with one person at the bottom and two people at the top,” she told the researchers.

“And in the single bed there’s my brother and I top and tail. My brother kicks. My mum talks in her sleep. So it’s not good sleep.”

The problem had reduced to affect about 80,000 children in 2011 but the numbers have increased steadily since, the charity said.

About 100,000 households are living in temporary accommodation in the UK, according to the Homeless Link charity.

More than 4,000 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night and, since 2010, rough sleeping estimates show an increase of 134%.

In 2011, the government cut housing benefit allowances from the bottom 50% of local rents to 30%. Shelter also cited the rollout of universal credit, the bedroom tax and the lowering of benefit caps in 2013 and 2016 as contributing factors.

Of the 23 interviews Shelter carried out with children and parents in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels, every family lived in a single room.

A quarter had no kitchen and half shared toilets with other households, often with filthy conditions and unlocked doors, Shelter reported.

Parents said they believed their children’s physical and mental health suffered, with incidents of bed bug infestations and broken heating causing children to fall ill.

Amy, 15, said: “There’s a tiny toilet with a shower but my brother doesn’t like showers because he’s autistic so he has to bathe in a bucket. He stands in it and mum tips a cup over him. He screams if you try to put him in the shower.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “This government is committed to breaking the homelessness cycle once and for all, and is working with Shelter and others to do this.

“We’re providing over £1bn until 2020 to tackle the issue and are implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act – the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier.

“Councils have a duty to provide safe, secure and suitable temporary accommodation. This means that people are getting help now and no family is without a roof over their head this Christmas.”

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MPs to launch inquiry into the Government’s approach to homelessness

MPs to launch inquiry into the Government’s approach to homelessness

Millions of people will have their benefits frozen for another year

Homelessness costs taxpayers more than £1bn per year, MPs say as select committee launches an inquiry into the Government’s approach to tackling homelessness.

A recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found that as of March this year there were 77,240 households, including 120,540 children, in temporary accommodation. This costs the taxpayer £845m out of a total homelessness bill of £1bn.

Council proposes £1,000 fines for homeless people sleeping in tents

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 gave more responsibility for homelessness to local authorities and required them to have a strategy.

However, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) does not monitor these strategies.

The PAC will take evidence from councils and the local government ombudsman about authorities’ progress with combatting homelessness.

Councils have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness

The committee will also hear from DCLG about their work in reducing the number homeless households, as well as asking the Department for Work and Pensions about whether benefit reform is contributing to the problem.

‘We’re glad the Public Accounts Committee is scrutinising how efficiently public money is spent on tackling homelessness,’ said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis.

To get people off the streets help homeless people rent

‘We know from the National Audit Office that far too much has been spent on emergency homelessness services rather than preventing it in the first place, leaving thousands of people languishing in temporary accommodation and costing huge amounts of money.’

Mr Sparkes welcomed the Government’s Budget pledge to establish a Homelessness Reduction Taskforce and fund vital programmes designed to support homeless people.

‘Now, it’s crucial that the taskforce is established urgently, and that it is lead directly by Number 10 to ensure Government departments work together across a coordinated plan,’ he continued.

Shelter warns of homelessness crisis

‘This is key to ensuring some parts of Government aren’t driving homelessness up while others parts are left to pick up the pieces.’

Mr Sparkes added that investing properly in welfare will prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

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More than 300,000 Brits will wake up homeless this Christmas

Charity calls on members of the public to help support homeless people over the festive season.

More than 23,000 social homes have been sold off in a year, figures reveal hours after the Budget

The statistics – which show England gained just 12,000 social rented homes overall – are an embarrassing dose of reality for Chancellor Philip Hammond

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Theresa May, who put housing at the centre of the Budget 

More than 23,000 social homes have been sold off under the Tories in the last year, official figures reveal today.

The statistics are an embarrassing dose of reality for Philip Hammond – just a day after his Budget.

The Chancellor made a pledge to build 300,000 more homes a year the centrepiece of his statement to MPs.

Yet he failed to say how many of them will be affordable.

And today’s figures show England gained just 12,000 socially rented homes overall in 2016, once sell-offs were taken into account.

The increase would have been higher if the number of social homes sold off had not risen by 5%.

England gained more than 200,000 net additional homes, but a fraction were social (Image: Getty)

The number of social housing sell-offs is now at its highest level for a decade, fuelled by a rise in sales under the Right to Buy.

Critics fear they are not being replaced “like-for-like” after the Mirror revealed dozens of councils failed to replace a single home sold under Right to Buy in a one year period.

Lib Dem Housing spokeswoman Wera Hobhouse said: “Philip Hammond is letting down a whole generation by neglecting the building of social housing.

“Thousands of homes are being sold off, but councils aren’t being given the resources to replace them.

“Instead of spending billions of pounds preparing for a Tory Brexit , the government should invest in affordable homes.”

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), said: “Social rent is the only truly affordable option for many people on lower incomes.

“These figures emphasise just how much further we need to go to make sure we have enough social rented homes available.

“If the government is going to meet its new target to deliver 300,000 homes a year, councils will have to play a major part.”

Mr Hammond announced yesterday he would lift councils’ borrowing limits to allow them to build more homes.

But his flagship £670m-a-year plan to scrap Stamp Duty for most first-time buyers fell apart after experts said it would push up house prices.

Figures last week showed England had 217,350 net additional homes in 2016/17, up 15% in a year, but they were not broken down by private and social housing.

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