For the first time in almost a decade, Britain has seen a marked increase in the number of homeless people, many of which are families. Blamed for this crisis are recent cuts to housing benefits along with a weak economy.
The three months leading up to June saw a 17% increase in the number of households being seen as in ‘priority need’ as compared to the second quarter of 2010. In total the number reported was 11,820 that were accepted by local authorities.
Unfortunately, in the report which the homelessness charity, Crisis, commissioned, the trend is likely to continue and the data tends to substantiate that things will get worse before they get better. After the recession, and with another looming in the near future, there has been a marked increase in homelessness of all kinds.
According to Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick who is affiliated with Heriot-Watt Institute for Housing, homeless people are living hidden away out of sight whilst others are simply sleeping on the streets in plain view. Professor Fitzpatrick blames both the economic downturn as well as government reforms.
The latest data are the first since government cuts were made and although the difference seems minimal, it is just the beginning. The percentage rise is substantial even if the numbers seem small with an increase of homeless households reported in the last quarter from 1,460 up to 2,130 as a result of losing private tenancy.
Unlike the last housing recession of two decades ago, the number of homeless people is increasing where the last recession saw numbers decreasing. The reason for this is because home prices were decreasing at that time and a first-time buyer program was instituted. As the report goes on to say, this is not likely to happen this time around because available social rented lettings are down and first time home buyers are still struggling to qualify for mortgages.
In spite of all these figures, the housing minister is urging anyone threatened with impending homelessness to seek assistance as soon as possible. He contends that even though we are seeing homelessness everywhere we look that support is still available.