More found homeless as benefit cuts hit

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Benefit reforms and a housing shortage have led to rocketing numbers of rough sleepers and people turning to emergency accommodation, research has found.

Temporary accommodation is being used for 10 per cent more people over the last financial year with bed-and-breakfast placements up by 14 per cent, according to an independent study published by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

It found that rough sleeping rose last year by 6 per cent in England and 13 per cent in London, with the increase coming from both UK and overseas nationals.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “We keep hearing that the economy is on the mend. Yet as we watch our GDP figures slowly rise, cuts to housing benefit and woefully inadequate house building will keep pushing up homelessness. Shamefully, it is the poorest and most vulnerable that are bearing the brunt.

“We need the Government to address the chronic lack of affordable housing, take real steps to improve the private rented sector and to urgently consider the impact its cuts to housing benefit are having, particularly in the capital.”

Researchers said a shortfall in homes being built was a “major factor” in the increase but warned that welfare cuts and reforms were also “critical” to overall homelessness levels.

In particular, housing benefit caps are making it more difficult for people to find private rentals, particularly in London. The Homelessness Monitor report showed 25 per cent fewer claimants in Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea since March 2011.

It also warned that reforms introduced earlier this year, including the so-called bedroom tax, are already having an impact, most notably in the Midlands and the North.

The overall benefit cap for out-of work households is particularly hitting larger families in London, it added.