A 16 per cent increase in homelessness in London over the last year, means the government must use this month’s Spending Review to build more affordable houses and stop and reverse cuts, particularly to housing benefit, warns Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people.
Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that 14,812 households in the capital were accepted as homeless by their local council in the 2012/2013 financial year – an increase of 16 per cent on last year, substantially higher than the 6 per cent rise across England. It is the third consecutive year that homelessness has risen in London and over the three years homelessness acceptances have increased by 57 per cent.
Also in London in 2012/13:
- There are 40,230 households in temporary accommodation, 9.5 per cent more than at the same point last year
- There are 2,290 homeless households living in B&Bs, a 22 per cent increase on the same time last year. 51 per cent of all households placed in B&Bs in England are in London.
- One of the biggest drivers of the increase in homelessness has been private tenancies coming to an end, as rents rise and cuts to housing benefit come in. Since last year there has been a 75 per cent increase in those made homeless because of the ending of a private tenancy in London
- The ending of a private tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness in the capital, accounting for 28 per cent of all those accepted as homeless.
- In some outer London boroughs the rises in homelessness have been severe:
- In Barking and Dagenham 664 households were accepted as homeless in 2012/13, up 234 per cent on the year before
- In Newham 720 households were accepted as homeless in 2012/13, up 190 per cent on the year before
- In Enfield 551 households were accepted as homeless in 2012/13, up 115 per cent on the year before
The homelessness figures follow statistics last week from the government’s Valuation Office Agency2 showing that London rents for 2012/13 are up 8.6 per cent on the year before, with relatively cheaper properties rising faster. Across the capital the lower quartile of rents rose by 10.4 per cent and in inner London the price of renting the cheapest properties went up by 16.3 per cent.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This rising tide of homelessness is a direct result of cuts to housing benefit at a time when there is a chronic lack of affordable housing and rents are rising, nowhere more so than London. Ministers can and must do more. Their immediate priorities should be to use the spending review to rein in the destructive welfare cuts they have made and focus instead on building the genuinely affordable homes Britain needs.
“These figures are a tragedy for the tens of thousands of people made homeless during the last year, but they are bad for us all. It makes more sense and is more cost-effective to help people stay in their homes than spend far more money on temporary accommodation or support once people become homeless. With more cuts to housing benefit kicking in we can sadly only expect things to get worse”
Independent research clearly showed that cuts to housing benefit3 would cause homelessness and today’s statistics reflect this. Temporary accommodation costs far more to the taxpayer than keeping a family in their own home. Recent reports from London include the story of a family receiving £700 a week in housing benefit made homeless due to cuts, only to be put in £2,500 a week temporary accommodation.
DCLG’s figures only cover households that have met strict criteria for help. Many single homeless people will not be recorded in these figures, nor people who have not gone to their local council for help. People living on the streets, in squats or on friends’ or families’ floors will likewise not be included in today’s statistics.