The majority of local councils in England are struggling to find stable housing for homeless people in their area, meaning they are increasingly having to place people in temporary accommodation, according to the latest ‘State Of The Nation‘ report from Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).
As the availability of low-cost social housing continues to dwindle, a shocking 70 per cent of English Councils say they have struggled to find affordable housing for homeless people in the last year, and 89 per cent reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.
This has resulted in Councils being forced to place homeless people in unsuitable temporary accommodation, including B&Bs and hostels, highlighting the growing need for more “genuinely affordable” homes.
The report found that 78,000 homeless households in England are currently housed in temporary accommodation. It warns that should this trend continue, more than 100,000 homeless households will be living in temporary accommodation by 2020.
Pressure on Councils to find stable housing for the homeless isn’t limited to the London area alone. 76 per cent of local authorities in the Midlands, 70% in the south, and 62% in the north, said the number of people seeking help from their homelessness services had risen over the last year, compared to just 40 per cent of Councils in London.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s truly terrible that, across England, councils are finding it increasingly difficult to find homeless people somewhere to live. This means ever more people are ending up trapped in B&Bs and hostels, with no stability and often in cramped conditions.
He added: “Homelessness is not inevitable and our research has shown how it can become a thing of the past.
“We warmly welcome the government’s pledges to tackle rough sleeping and the new Homelessness Reduction Act, but the government must provide more social housing that all homeless people can access if this push is going to succeed.”
Campbell Robb, chief executive of JRF, said: “As a country we believe in justice and compassion and protecting people from harm, so it is simply unacceptable that more and more people face the misery and insecurity of living in bed and breakfasts and other forms of temporary accommodation in England today.
“We have a shared responsibility to ensure everyone can access a decent and safe home, especially at times of crisis in people’s lives. High housing costs, low pay and insecure work are locking people in poverty restricting their choices: with councils finding it harder to help, more families are being forced into temporary accommodation. This is not right.
“A failure by successive Governments to build enough genuinely affordable homes has contributed to this situation.
“The Government has recognised the problem with its Homelessness Reduction Act, and the forthcoming social housing green paper is another opportunity to commit to building the low-cost rented homes we need to release families from the grip of poverty.”
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, the report’s lead author, said: “This year’s Homelessness Monitor has, again, provided evidence of the profound, cumulative and adverse impact of welfare reform on access to housing for low-income groups, especially in high-value markets.
“The options are narrowing for local authorities charged with preventing and resolving homelessness, as benefit-reliant households are entirely priced out of the private rented sector in some parts of the country. At the same time, homeless people’s access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness about letting to households whose incomes are now so very low that even properties let at social rents can be unaffordable to them.
“The upward trend in sharing households, and the declining ability of younger adults to form separate households across England, is testimony to the growing pressures in the market more broadly.
“While much attention has (rightly) focused on the structural difficulties associated with Universal Credit, such as waiting times, the more fundamental and pernicious impacts for the poorest households are associated with the caps and freezing of Local Housing Allowance and other working age benefits.”