Devastating rise in homelessness proof UK at mercy of crippling housing crisis – charity

© Stefan Wermuth
Shocking new government figures reveal that homelessness has rocketed in England since 2010, with over 41,000 families destitute or living in temporary accommodation last year.

The figures analyzed by homelessness charity Shelter show the number of families without a home in England soared by 42 percent between 2010 and 2015. The charity says that people losing their privately-rented homes is the single biggest cause of the crisis.

In 2015 alone, around 17,000 families reportedly became homeless after being evicted from privately-rented homes.

Shelter’s analysis, published on Wednesday, also found that the number of homeless families forced to live in emergency B&B’s and hostels has gone up by over 100 percent since 2010.

Shelter helps millions of people across the UK each year who find themselves destitute or forced to live in temporary accommodation.

The group's Chief Executive Campbell Robb said Britain is gripped by a severe housing crisis.

“The devastating rise in homelessness revealed by today’s figures provides unquestionable proof this country is once again at the mercy of a housing crisis,” he said.

“As the number of homeless people continues to grow, it’s clear that the modest proposals on rough-sleeping in the budget are simply inadequate given the scale of this problem, and will not reach the thousands of homeless families hidden away in cramped B&B’s and dingy hostel rooms.”

Last week, Chancellor George Osborne announced a new £115 million (US$163 million) package as part of his 2016 budget focused on addressing rough sleeping in the UK. Osborne, whose austerity policies have been slammed by human rights campaigners, economists and politicians statewide, said the situation was “unacceptable in our day and age.”

However, Shelter says history’s lessons are clear and robust social safety nets and secure, affordable homes are the only means of curbing homelessness.

“Over the past 50 years at Shelter we have seen first-hand that reducing homelessness is only possible when a government is truly committed to providing secure and affordable homes, and adequate support should the worst happen,” Robb said.

“But, tragically as we approach our 50th anniversary we are instead facing the catastrophic consequences of short-sighted welfare cuts and a severe housing shortage.”

Robb called on Britain’s Conservative government to intervene, stop “side-stepping the root causes” of Britain’s housing crisis and immediately prioritize building homes that those on low and modest incomes can afford to rent or buy.

The Department of Communities and Local Government agreed this is a crisis that needs to be dealt with.

“We know more must be done which is why are considering all options, including legislation, to prevent more people becoming homeless in the first place,” a spokesperson for the body told the Guardian.

“This government has always been committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in our society and while statutory homelessness remains less than half the 2003-04 peak, one person without a home is one too many.”