This year, a staggering 320,000 people in Britain have been recorded as homeless, a rise of 13,000 since 2017, according to research by housing charity Shelter.
The figures suggest that one in 200 people in Britain are homeless and, due to the yearly increase, more than 1,000 people have become homeless every month. These individuals are now either living in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “We live in the sixth richest country in the world – the growing number of people without a home to call their own is a mark of national shame.”
We live in the sixth richest country in the world – the growing number of people without a home to call their own is a mark of national shame.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP
Shelter’s Figures are Based on Official Data
Credit: Stephen Lilley Flickr
Shelter‘s annual study, Homelessness in Great Britain, uses official data to estimate the number of people recorded as homeless. It does not take unofficial homelessness situations, such as sofa surfing, into account which means the figure of 320,000 (or 1 in 201 people) could be much higher.
The figures are based on the number of people who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, sleeping rough, in single hostel spaces and families provided with temporary accommodation under the Children’s Act.
Over two years, the increase in the number of homeless people in Britain has been 25,000.
Housing Crisis and Welfare Cuts are Key Factors
Credit: Stephen McKay Geograph
Campaigners believe a chronic shortage of affordable housing, the lack of protection for private renters and the impact of welfare cuts are major factors in the rise.
Shelter Chief executive Polly Neate said: “These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.
Homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.
Shelter Chief executive Polly Neate
“Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room.
“We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”
Rough sleepers in south London Credit: Alisdare Hickson Flickr
Shelter’s report comes soon after UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, highlighted that, “14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50 per cent below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.”
Commenting on the 4.5 million children living in poverty, he said: “For almost one in every two children to be poor in twenty-first century Britain is not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster, all rolled into one.”
He specifically addressed homelessness and described meeting people who have sold sex in exchange for shelter. He also noted the shocking jump in homelessness, as well as the chronic shortage of affordable social housing.
In England, homelessness is up 60 per cent since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134 per cent.
Professor Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
“In England, homelessness is up 60 per cent since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134 per cent. There are 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list, but less than 6,000 homes were built last year.”
Government Commits to Ending Rough Sleeping by 2027
Credit: Number 10 Flickr
Announcing the measures, Theresa May said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough, and that’s why we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable in our society get the support they need.”
Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, said: “It is simply unacceptable that people have to sleep on the streets and I am determined to make it a thing of the past. Whether people are at risk of rough sleeping, already on the streets or in need of settled accommodation, we have a solid plan to help the most vulnerable in our society.”
It is simply unacceptable that people have to sleep on the streets and I am determined to make it a thing of the past.
Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP
However, with the vast majority of people experiencing homelessness living in temporary accommodation (295,952), rather than sleeping rough (5096), critics argue that not enough is being done to tackle the problem.
Last month, Brokenshire announced a £20 million package to enable local authorities to help people experiencing homelessness secure tenancies in private rented accommodation.