Homelessness rates in England reach five-year peak
The entire country is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, characterised by steep inflation rates, making it challenging for people to afford basic necessities
A man walks past a homeless persons tent on January 24, 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Homeless charity Shelter recently stated that one in 58 Londoners is homeless, far higher than the national figure of one in 208. This is, in part, due to the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the capital. In 2022 around 271,000 people were homeless on any given night across the UK, Shelter estimates that almost half of them are children. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
The number of families and individuals confronting homelessness in England has surged to its highest level since 2018 data released on Tuesday (25) showed.
This concerning development has prompted appeals for the government to expedite the reform of renting laws and increase the construction of affordable housing.
The entire country is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis, characterised by steep inflation rates, making it challenging for people to afford basic necessities and cope with the rapidly escalating rental costs.
Official government data for the period from January to March revealed that a staggering 79,840 households, including both families and individuals, were in need of assistance from local authorities to address homelessness or the imminent risk of homelessness.
The data revealed that slightly over half of the households in need were already experiencing homelessness, while 18% of them were from London.
Simultaneously, the number of households residing in temporary accommodation to address homelessness rose to 104,510, marking a 10% increase compared to the previous year and representing the highest figure since records for this metric began in 1998.
The government has identified the termination of assured shorthold tenancies, a type of fixed-term contract, as a significant factor driving the surge in homelessness.
Such contracts prevalent in Britain allow landlords to evict tenants at the end of the agreed-upon period without providing any specific reason, and with only two months’ notice – often referred to as “no-fault evictions.”
Landlords were evicting tenants to rent to others, sell the property or because of overdue rents, the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.
Some rental prices have risen 123% compared to a year earlier, driving up rates of rental arrears, it continued.
Housing charity Shelter called on the government to build more affordable, social housing to ease the pressure on the private sector.
“No-fault evictions are fuelling homelessness and throwing thousands of families’ lives into turmoil,” Shelter’s CEO Polly Neate said, calling for decisive action.
Neate urged the government to pass its planned Renters Reform Bill, which seeks to abolish no-fault evictions, into law at the earliest opportunity.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday (24) reiterated promises to boost homebuilding by the next election.
“We are determined to prevent homelessness before it occurs,” a DLUHC spokesperson said.