Rough sleeping goes up 13 per cent in London in figures released just now

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The number of rough sleepers in London has gone up 13 per cent in the past year, according to statistics commissioned by the Greater London Authority and local authorities.

Homelessness charity Broadway released figures today Thursday 20th June 2013 showing the number of people seen sleeping on the streets of the capital between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013 was 6,437 compared to 5,678 the previous year.

Just over half of those seen rough sleeping were non-UK nationals (53 per cent). Twenty-eight per cent of these were from central and eastern Europe.

75 per cent of new rough sleepers to the streets – 3,255 out of 4,353 –  were only seen sleeping rough once. This was an improvement on 2011/12 when 70 per cent of new comers to the street were seen sleeping out for more than one night and 62 per cent in 2010/11, This could be attributed to the success of the no second night out scheme, that has now been running for two years and aims to stop new people to the streets spending a second night there. Fifty-one per cent of new rough sleepers to the streets attended NSNO, the Street to Home 2012/13 report shows.

The rise in rough sleeping is obviously concerning. London is leading the way in terms of finding and helping new rough sleepers. However, these figures underline the need to better target effective advice and support before individuals end up on the streets of the capital.’

The figures also revealed that 12 per cent of those sleeping rough in London over the past year were female (786) and three per cent (145) of the UK nationals on the streets were known to have served in the armed forces at some point.

Crisis says that Boris Johnson must act now to rein in soaring rough sleeping in the mayor’s city.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said today on the homeless website: “The mayor of London pledged to eliminate rough sleeping in the capital by 2012. Instead we see today the number of people sleeping on London’s streets – in absolute destitution in one of the world’s richest cities – has more than doubled on Boris’s watch.

“He has the power to build tens of thousands more genuinely affordable homes and can protect services that prevent and solve homelessness, plus the clout to influence central government to reverse housing benefit cuts that have proved so damaging and are directly causing Londoners to fall into homelessness and rough sleeping. Continuing failure to do so will lead to more of his citizens facing the horrors of life on the streets.”

This latest rise in rough sleeping comes at a time when services to prevent and solve homelessness are suffering swingeing cuts from central and local government. Between 2011 and 2012 alone, 12 hostels or day centres have closed in London. There are 784 fewer bed spaces, with 58 per cent  of projects in London reporting reductions in funding and further cuts to come.

To make matters worse for poorer Londoners, government statistics show that rents in the capital for 2012/13 are up 8.6 per cent on the year before. Across the capital the lowest 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.

Housing benefit has been cut and capped. Previous research for Crisis highlighted how in one London borough, just 1.7% of properties were affordable and available for an under 35 year old on housing benefit looking for a room to rent.

Single people end up sleeping rough as London’s boroughs only have to help those who meet strict criteria under the homelessness legislation. While some boroughs do help other single people, these services are under pressure or being cut back and many boroughs turn single people away with little or no assistance, leaving them with little option but to sleep rough or get by on friends’ or families’ floors or in squats.

The Street to Home report is compiled by Broadway from figures gathered by London outreach teams from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network. Eighty projects contribute to the CHAIN database, which holds comprehensive data on rough sleeping and the street population in London.

Read about what one man is doing to raise awareness for the homeless problem in the UK while raising money for ‘Help the Heroes’

Former soldier Christian is walking the entire UK coast line and you can see a little more about him when producer Johnny Lynch.caught up with him as he journey brought him through Norfolk earlier this month where a documentary filmed will be available soon.

https://ukhomelessnessblog.wordpress.com/christian

To donate use the link http://www.bmycharity.com/ChristianNock

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Last year I did my own walk to bring awareness for homelessness for Crisis. This is the view from Crisis on todays stats released from Government.

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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.

Bedroom tax ‘could make thousands of poor people homeless’

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Tens of thousands of the poorest people in Britain risk being made homeless because of the bedroom tax, according to an analysis of councils’ assessments of the welfare cut.

From last month, housing benefit has been reduced to council or housing association tenants who ministers claim have more bedrooms than they need.

Data from 107 local authorities shows 86,000 households have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes, of which only 33,000 have become available in the past year.

The figures mask considerable regional variation. In Essex, 100 social housing tenants in Rochford were deemed to require a one-bedroom property because of the benefit changes but only five had become vacant the previous year. In Gloucester the council said 111 one-bed homes had been available last year, but almost 500 households needed them because of the bedroom tax.

Inverclyde in Scotland said 1,100 households would need to move into one-bedroom homes – of which just 96 had been free to rent last year.

Any tenants “under-occupying” their properties will lose 14% of housing benefit – an average of £9.25, according to the analysis – until they move into a one-bedroom home. The government’s impact assessment last summer warned that 35% of claimants affected “would be quite or very likely to fall into arrears if their housing benefit were to be reduced”.

False Economy, the trade union-backed campaign that used freedom of information requests to get the data, said it had chosen to focus on one-bed properties as ministers had been forced to acknowledge last year that there was a “shortage” of such homes but pressed on regardless with the policy.

A spokesman for False Economy said: “The disparity between the demand for one-bed housing and a whole year’s worth of supply is so severe that there is little hope of plugging the shortfall.” Without new homes being built, “tens of thousands are now facing a crisis”.

A study by the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, warned ministers that families unable to get a one-bedroom social home all moving to the private rented sector could increase benefit claims by £143m a year – despite government claims the policy will save money.

David Orr, chief executive of the federation, said: “For some the only option is to move into homes for private rent, which in many parts of the country are much higher than social rents, so the government won’t make the savings it hopes.

“The bedroom tax is an ill-thought-through and unfair policy that will cause distress for hundreds of thousands of people forced to move from homes and communities in which they have lived for years. It must be scrapped now.”

Homeless charities also called for the policy to be abandoned. Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Without enough one-bedroom homes to move into, tens of thousands are powerless to avoid the anxiety, debt and arrears caused by the bedroom tax. Our fear is that many, through no fault of their own, will in the end become homeless as a direct result of government policy. Ministers must accept these facts and rethink the bedroom tax now.”

Labour described the policy as the “worst combination of cruelty and incompetence”. Liam Byrne, the party’s spokesman on welfare, said the bedroom tax was a “mess”. “Thousands of vulnerable households are trapped by this hated tax with no option to move, and if tenants are forced to go homeless or move into the expensive private accommodation the tax payer will be left to pick up the tab.”

The government said those losing out could make up the shortfall by moving “into employment, working more hours, or taking in a lodger”. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Not all people affected by the changes to the spare room subsidy will need to move – it is wrong to suggest that all those impacted will have to downsize.”