Bullock fears 'worrying rise' in homelessness figures
Local authorities face added pressures on housing waiting lists after Government figures showed a 'worrying rise' in levels of homelessness.
Numbers of homeless people seeking help soared by 16% in the first quarter of 2012 - compared with the same quarter last year, official figures issued today reveal.
Between January to March 2012 some 13,130 homeless people were accepted as being owed a duty of help, according to the quarterly Office for National Statistics release.
In total there were 50,290 acceptances in 2011/12, a 14% increase from 2010/11’s figure of 44,160.
Announcing a £3.4m cash boost to the National Homelessness Advice Service - to be shared between Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureau - in its work helping families and local agencies, housing minister, Grant Shapps said the country has one of the strongest safety nets in the world to protect families and vulnerable households from losing their home.
‘But it is clear that the earlier families act, the more options are available to help avoid the worst,’ Mr Shapps said.
Officials said the funding is part of £400m Government cash allocated to help people at risk of becoming homeless until 2015.
But local government leaders have blamed changes to the housing system and limited town hall borrowing powers for the increased levels of homelessness.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, vice chair of the Local Government Association’s Environment and Housing Board, urged ministers to give councils more borrowing powers to fund new homes and new powers to restore empty homes to use.
'Homelessness places additional pressure on housing waiting lists, as well as impacting on both the availability of temporary housing and private rentals,’ said Cllr Loakes. ‘The best way to tackle this issue is to focus on bricks and mortar and investing in existing homes.’
London Councils’ executive member for housing, Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock said: ‘After years of falls in homelessness this worrying rise is an indirect result of the changes in the housing benefit system. Increasingly people are having huge difficulty finding affordable housing in the capital.’
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