Homelessness ‘crisis’ sees rising numbers in temporary housing

HUNDREDS of Yorkshire families are living in temporary accommodation, official figures have shown, as housing campaigners warn England is “sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis”.

Almost 65,000 households were living in temporary accomodation in March.
Almost 65,000 households were living in temporary accomodation in March.

Across England, almost 65,000 households were living in temporary accommodation provided by councils at the end of March - the highest number since 2008.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, that number was 747, up 75 on the same period in 2014. Of the most recent figure, the authorities housing the highest numbers of households were Sheffield, at 110, Wakefield, at 107, and Kirklees at 84. North Yorkshire’s seven district authorities, including Harrogate, Scarborough and Richmondshire, were housing 143 families.

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The Government figures also show 13,520 households were accepted as homeless in the first three months of this year across England, up 8 per cent on the same period in 2014.

And 2,570 families with children were living in emergency B&B accommodation - a rise of 35 per cent compared with the first quarter of last year and the highest level since 2003.

Campaigners said high private-sector rents and cuts to housing benefits were largely to blame, and said almost a third of cases accepted by councils were caused by the loss of tenancy with a private landlord.

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “More and more households are struggling to pay their rent in an increasingly insecure market, while cuts to housing benefit have left the safety net in tatters. For anyone finding themselves in difficulty, the prospects are decidedly bleak.

“England is sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis, and we’ve yet to hear what our new Government intends to do about it. Local authorities are in an impossible situation. We need decisive political action to fix our broken private rented sector, along with radical solutions to tackle the severe shortage of affordable homes. At the same time, we must have a safety net that genuinely protects tenants struggling to make ends meet.”

Homelessness charity Shelter said the number of children living in temporary accommodation - 93,320 - was a “glaring reminder” of the impact welfare cuts and the drought of genuinely affordable homes is having on families and children in England.

Antony Sadler, service director for communities at Wakefield Council, which had the second highest number of households in temporary accommodation in Yorkshire, said its focus was on preventing homelessness.

He added: “For the cases where homelessness cannot be prevented and the Council accepts a duty to provide accommodation, we will provide good quality, furnished, accommodation with support.”

Henry Gregg, assistant director of communications and campaigns at housing association body the National Housing Federation, described the statistics as “a shameful reminder of Britain’s housing crisis”.

He added: “Successive Governments have failed to build enough homes for decades, and this is the result. Housing associations want to build the homes these people and this country need. The Government must back this ambition by bringing forward land and providing proper investment to help end the housing crisis.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities said that since 2010, it has increased spending to prevent homelessness, making over £500m available to local authorities and the voluntary sector to support the most vulnerable in society.