Homelessness on rise

The number of homeless households has increased by 14 per cent as rising repossession rates and unemployment help push the number of households classed as homeless above 50,000.

The biggest increase in nine years, the official number of people classed as homeless in England has jumped by 14 per cent since 2011.

Birmingham is the city with highest number of homeless people at 925 households, while across London the homeless figure has risen by 27.4 per cent.

According to figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, 48,510 households were accepted as homeless in 2011. With a slight increase in 2010, homelessness had previously been decreasing steadily since 2003.

Leslie Morphy, the chief executive of Crisis, said: "Our worst fears are coming to pass.”

Now, approximately 69,460 children or unborn babies are in homeless households, with as many as 75 per cent of homeless households including children.

The use of B&Bs as a temporary solution has seen a 37 per cent increase since the new Localism Act has enabled councils to discharge homeless households into the private rented sector against their will, rather than finding them a permanent address.

Although councils have a six-week time limit for each homeless household permitted to remain in temporary accommodation, the recent housing benefit cuts have seen reluctance from private landlords to renew short-term leases, making it increasingly difficult for DSS claimants to find a settled home.

Grant Shapps, the current Housing Minister, said that figures were still half the average rate seen under Labour and blamed the ‘debt-laden economy inheritance’ for driving these homeless figures to their highest point for years.

Figures show that the number of households made homeless after repossession has risen to 1,520, a 44 per cent increase on the previous year. The figures also show the number of rough sleepers in England has gone up by 20 per cent.

"These figures are a shocking reminder of the divide between the housing haves and have nots in this country," Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, said.

“It is an absolute tragedy that in 2012 so many families do not have a home they can call their own,” said shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey.

In Bristol, the BCAN Crisis Centre Ministries has been sponsoring a 'Homeless Forum' to help raise funds and awareness of this issue. Bristol Property Live's very own Melissa Johnson went along to one of their sleepouts to find out more about this cause.