Laura Sharman 10 August 2017

Rough sleeping to rise by three quarters in next decade warns charity

Rough sleeping is set to increase by 76% in the next ten years, according to new analysis by homeless charity Crisis.

The research found that at any one time last year, 9,100 people were sleeping rough, while more than 37,00 households were living in hostels. More than 68,00 households were ‘sofa surfing’ while 12,100 were living in squats.

The report found that unless policies were changed, the most acute forms of homelessness are likely to keep rising. It said overall numbers would increase by more than a quarter in the coming decade and households in unsuitable temporary accommodation set to nearly double.

Crisis also explored how different policies could help reduce homelessness. It found increased prevention work could reduce levels by 34% by 2036, while a 60% increase in new housing could reduce levels of homelessness by 19% in the same period.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘This year Crisis marks its 50th anniversary, but that’s little cause for celebration. We still exist because homelessness still exists, and today’s report makes it only too clear that unless we take action as a society, the problem is only going to get worse with every year that passes.

‘That means more people sleeping on our streets, in doorways or bus shelters, on the sofas of friends or family, or getting by in hostels and B&Bs. In order to tackle this, we need to first understand the scale of the problem.

‘Regardless of what happens in people’s lives, whatever difficulties they face or choices they make, no one should ever have to face homelessness. With the right support at the right time, it doesn’t need to be inevitable. There are solutions, and we’re determined to find them and make them a reality.’

In response to the findings, cllr Judith Blake, Housing spokesperson at the Local Government Association, said: ‘Homelessness is everyone’s business, and councils need the help of health, employment, and housing partners to deliver ambitions to end it. In particular, councils need to be able to adapt the implementation of some welfare reforms to ensure there are housing options for people on low incomes.

‘There is no substitute for a renaissance in council house building if we’re to truly address the rising homelessness we face as a nation. For that to happen, government needs to allow councils to borrow to invest in genuinely affordable housing, and to keep all of their receipts from Right to Buy sales, so that money can be reinvested into delivering genuinely affordable homes.’

Crisis will publish a second report in the Autumn to examine ‘wider homelessness’, including people at risk of homelessness or those who have already experienced it.

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