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Homelessness on rise as predicted by Crisis research

Government figures report another rise in homelessness today as new research published by homelessness charity Crisis warns that the situation is set to get worse.

The Homelessness Monitor: Tracking the Impacts of Policy and Economic Change in England, commissioned by Crisis and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York, warns that after years of stable or falling levels of homelessness, 2010 marked the turning point when homelessness in all its forms started to rise again.

The research predicts that the worst is yet to come as the continuing economic downturn combined with the Coalition Government's radical reforms and weakening of the welfare state will leave many more people facing the threat or reality of homelessness.

The new statutory homelessness figures released today by the Department of Communities and Local Government show that the number of homeless households owed an accommodation duty by their local authority ("acceptances") is up by 17% on the same quarter last year, to 11,820. This is from a total of 25,890 local authority homelessness assessment decisions - a 14% rise over the same period.

These statistics are also the first since the Government cut Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit) for new claimants in April and shockingly, the figures show a 46% rise on the same period last year in the number of people being accepted as homeless as a result of their tenancy in the private rented sector ending. 

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: "Today's official figures prove once again we now face a sustained increase in homelessness but, worryingly, this research predicts the worst is yet to come.

"The Coalition Government is dismantling the buffers against poverty and unemployment that have traditionally kept a roof over vulnerable households' heads. Homelessness is rising and we fear cuts to housing benefit and housing budgets, alongside reforms in the Welfare Reform and Localism Bills will cause it to increase yet further. We need the Government to change course now or risk returning us to the days of countless lives facing the debilitating effects of homelessness."

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, of the Institute for Housing, Urban and Real Estate Research, Heriot-Watt University, who led the research, said: "International evidence indicates that strong welfare and housing systems are vital in mitigating the impact of difficult economic circumstances on people vulnerable to homelessness. So the Government's reforms in combination with the pressures of the economic downturn seem certain to increase all forms of homelessness, from rough sleepers on our streets to homeless people hidden out of sight."


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