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“Perfect storm” drives homelessness upwards again

107,060 people approached their local council as homeless in 2011, government statistics reveal, prompting Crisis to call for better help for all homeless people.

The statistics, gathered by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from local authorities across the country up to the end of 2011, show that 107,060 people approached their local council as homeless, a 10% rise on 2010, and the second full year of rising homelessness across the country.

Of these, 48,510 households were accepted as owed the main homelessness duty - a 14% increase on 2010. The last quarter of 2011 saw an 18% increase on the previous.

The pressure in the private rented sector (PRS) is clearly rising, with a 39% year-on-year rise in the number of households becoming homeless due to their tenancy coming to an end. This reflects soaring rents and demand for a dwindling number of properties with cuts to housing benefit (which came into effect for new claimants from April 2011) pushing ever more properties out of reach and more tenants into homelessness.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: "Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.

"The results are clear: we have now had two years of rising homelessness, and with the worst of the cuts still to bite we can only predict that homelessness will continue to rise. Worse still, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Many thousands more people will not be recorded, instead being hidden away from help on the street, sofa surfing and in overcrowded and unsuitable accommodation."

"The Government must learn from these figures and ensure that the services, help and affordable housing homeless people need are available in every area. We must also do more to stop people becoming homeless in the first place, including by changing the law so all get the help they need from their local council, and reforming the private rented sector. In fact the Government itself is adding to the problem through its cuts to housing benefit up and down the country"

In addition figures reveal 3,200 households spent Christmas 2011 in Bed & Breakfasts - a shocking 37% rise on the previous year.

These figures follow a separate set of statistics that revealed a 23% increase in rough sleeping nationally. DCLG recorded 2,181 people were identified by local councils as sleeping rough on any one night, up from 1,768 in the preceding year's count.

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