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Homelessness much worse than headline figures show

New independent research published by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals the true scale of homelessness in England.

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2015 shows how official homelessness figures are masking the true scale of the problem, with 280,000 cases of people facing homelessness last year – a 9% rise not reflected in the headline statistics.

The independent study, which analyses the impact of economic and policy developments on homelessness, draws on a survey of councils combined with new statistical analysis and in-depth interviews.

It reveals how welfare cuts and other changes have left growing numbers struggling to keep a roof over their heads, with more than half of councils fearing worse is yet to come. There is also a clear rise in the number of people becoming homeless due to the loss of a private rented home, which now accounts for 30% of all statutory homelessness cases.

Furthermore, nearly two thirds of councils think headline figures no longer reflect local trends as they increasingly rely on more ‘informal’ approaches to homelessness that are recorded separately.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Today’s report reveals the true scale of homelessness in England, which headline figures no longer reflect. Council officials are clear that benefit cuts and sanctions are taking a dreadful toll on people’s lives, with rising numbers facing the loss of their home at a time when councils are being forced to cut services. This is a desperate state of affairs.

“What this report clearly shows is that political choices have a huge impact on homelessness. As we approach the general election, we want all the parties to take homelessness seriously as an issue. We want to see manifestos that commit to tackling the woeful lack of affordable housing, reviewing sanctions and cuts to housing benefit and to funding and supporting local homelessness services.”

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the JRF, said: “This research highlights the growing divergence between regions, with London and the South reporting much higher levels of homelessness than the North, confirming that structural problems in the housing system are one of the main drivers of the under-reported surge in need.

“Homelessness can be catastrophic for those of us who experience it. If we are to prevent a deepening crisis, we must look to secure alternatives to home ownership for those who cannot afford to buy – longer-term, secure accommodation at prices that those on the lowest incomes can afford.”

Read the full Homelessness Monitor: England 2015 report

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