Monday, January 20, 2020

One in four households facing homelessness are already in work

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More than a quarter of households who are deemed to be at increased risk of homelessness include at least one working family member, according to new analysis of official data.

Official figures suggest that more than 260,000 households in England are facing the unenviable prospect of becoming homeless, with more than a quarter of applications for council support coming from working households.

However, this number is even higher in some parts of the country, such as Newham Council in east London where 40% of applications come from working people.

The findings, which were uncovered by an independent investigation by the Sunday Observer, have sparked calls for the UK Government and local authorities to improve support for working people at risk of homelessness and build more homes for social rent.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of the homeless charity Shelter, said the worrying figures demonstrate why the UK Government must “urgently” increase social security benefits, whilst also calling for the creation of three million homes for social rent.

“The only way politicians can fix this crisis is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years,” she said.

“And in the meantime, the government must urgently increase housing benefit so that people on low incomes can access at least the bottom third of the private rental market.”

According to analysis of the latest statistics, there are currently 118,000 homeless households in England, as well as a further 145,025 households who at imminent risk of homelessness.

Of those at risk of homelessness, 71,210 applications for council support were made by someone in work, with an even split between part-time and full-time workers.

Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s General Secretary, told the Observer: “No-one should face homelessness in the UK. It’s shocking that so many working households face losing their home.

“It’s the result of a crisis of low pay and insecure work, with too many workers not knowing if they’ll make enough money from one week to the next.

“Britain needs a real pay rise to £10 per hour as soon as possible.

“We need cuts to housing benefit reversed. And we need exploitative zero-hours contracts banned once and for all.”

Darren Baxter, head of Housing Policy and Partnerships Manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, added: “It is totally unacceptable that a large number of working families are being locked out of our housing market.

“It undermines what we stand for as a society that low-paid, insecure work, unaffordable rents and a lack of support from our social security system are trapping people into poverty and homelessness.”

A Government spokesperson said the ‘Homelessness Reduction Act’ is helping to tackle the issue of homelessness, whilst adding that the new ‘Rough Sleeping Initiative’ has also helped to reduce the number of people sleeping rough by 32%.

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