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Councils across England running out of options as demand from households facing homelessness soars

  • State of the nation research reveals that nearly a quarter of a million households are now experiencing the worst forms of homelessness across England – equivalent to 1 in 100 households
  • Thousands are currently being forced to live in B&Bs and hostels as councils struggle to find suitable long-term housing
  • With 97% of local authorities struggling to source private rentals, Crisis is warning that without urgent action to build more affordable homes, homelessness will dramatically rise over the coming year

New research from the charity Crisis has revealed that nearly a quarter of a million households across England (242,000) are now experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, including sleeping on the streets, spending night after night on friends and families' sofas or stuck in unsuitable temporary accommodation like nightly paid B&Bs.1 

The annual study, funded by Crisis and led by Heriot-Watt University, is the strongest evidence yet of how the cost-of-living crisis, rising rents and widespread destitution are driving up homelessness levels and making it harder for councils to provide people with effective support.   

The findings, which draw on a national survey of councils, statistical analysis and in-depth interviews, shows how over three quarters (85%) of councils across England are facing an increase in people experiencing homelessness – the highest number to say this in any year since the survey began. At the same time, many stated that the ongoing freeze to housing benefit, dwindling social housing supply and a general lack of affordable housing was making it increasingly difficult to support struggling households out of homelessness.2 

The report also lays bare how unstable the private rented market has become. 88% of councils reported an increase in requests for support from those evicted from the private rented sector while 93% anticipate a further increase over the coming year.3 

As councils' access to social housing has declined over the years, local authorities are increasingly turning to the private rented sector to try and house low-income households. But the report highlights how surging rents and fierce competition for properties is making it near impossible to house people experiencing homelessness in some areas of the country, with the overwhelming majority (97%) of local authorities stating they have struggled to source private rentals over the past year.4

With councils running out of suitable longer-term housing options, they are increasingly reliant on temporary accommodation – with the number of households living in such accommodation now at record levels. Concerningly, the report highlights how the use of temporary accommodation is reaching breaking point, with a large number of councils stating that they are ‘running out of temporary accommodation’ and ‘struggling to procure more’. 

This forces councils to rely on inappropriate forms of accommodation as a solution, meaning thousands of people - including families with children - live for long periods of time in B&Bs or nightly paid accommodation, often far away from their families and communities in out-of-borough placements. Often in poor condition and without necessities like cooking and washing facilities, it is estimated that the number of households in unsuitable temporary accommodation has tripled over the past ten years. Worryingly, the research forecasts that the number of households living in unsuitable temporary accommodation is expected to almost double over the next twenty years if the Westminster Government doesn’t take action to address the challenges councils are facing, affecting an estimated 49,500 households by 2041.   

Crisis is issuing a stark warning to the Westminster Government that unless it takes steps to build more genuinely affordable homes using and invests in housing benefit, then homelessness will dramatically rise over the coming year.  

Matt Downie, Chief Executive at Crisis, said "The homelessness system is at breaking point. Temporary accommodation should be a short-term emergency measure yet, as the report shows, it is increasingly becoming the default solution for many councils. This is leaving thousands of people living out their lives in a permanent state of limbo, enduring cramped, unsuitable conditions – with a fifth of households in temporary accommodation stuck there for over five years.5 

“It comes as no surprise that councils are reporting that they are running out of temporary accommodation. For too long the emphasis has been on managing homelessness, not building the social homes we need to provide security to low-income households.  

“The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. The Westminster Government must address the chronic lack of social housing and increase housing benefit, so it covers the true cost of rents. We cannot allow this situation to escalate further and consign more lives to the misery of homelessness.” 

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, from Heriot-Watt University, said "This report highlights how councils across the country are facing an impossible situation. With record numbers of people experiencing homelessness, the vast majority of councils are expecting this already dire situation to become even worse. 

“Without access to affordable private rented homes or social housing, we are only going to see more and more households forced into homelessness. We need to address the root causes that are pushing people into homelessness in the first place to ensure that everyone has a safe place to call home.” 


Notes to Editor

About Crisis  

Crisis is the national charity for people facing homelessness across Wales, Scotland and England. We know that homelessness is not inevitable, and we know that together, we can end it.

We provide services directly to people experiencing homelessness, carry out research into the causes and consequences of homelessness, and campaign for the changes needed to end it.

You can contact the Crisis media team on 020 7426 3880,, or 07973 372587 (out of hours)


  1. See the Core Homelessness methodology below for more details of this. Figure 5.3 in the report shows the proportion of households experiencing core homelessness in England and across broad regions.
  2. Before the 2022 survey, the highest proportion of respondents to report an increase in the number of households was 71% in 2018 (see Table A2.3 in full report). In addition, 82% of respondents said that the refreezing of Local Housing Allowance at the 30th percentile was very challenging in the contexts of their attempts to prevent or alleviate homelessness in their area (see Table A2.10).
  3. See Tables A2.6 and A2.7 in the full report.
  4. See Table A2.19 in the full report.
  5. Government data on temporary accommodation in the 2021-22 financial year shows the following (see here for full data):











Time spent in temporary accommodation during 2021-22 




Less than 6 months 




6 months to 1 year 



1 to 2 years 



2 to 5 years 



5+ years 






All households 


































































Families with children 

































































Single households 





























































About the Homelessness Monitor 

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2023 was commissioned by Crisis and led by Heriot-Watt University, as part of the Homelessness Monitor series. It provides an independent analysis of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments across England.  

The report includes a survey of local authorities in England. All councils were invited to take part and 50% completed the survey. The full results to the survey including those in this press release are in Appendix 2 of the full report on page 116.

The research also includes interviews with key informants detailed statistical analysis and a modelling exercise about ‘core’ homelessness. The core homelessness analysis provides estimates of past and recent levels of core homelessness, as well as projections of future levels of core homelessness.   

Methodology for core homelessness analysis 

  • Core homelessness captures the most extreme and immediate forms of homelessness at a point in time. Types of homelessness include rough sleeping, hostels, night shelters, unsuitable temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, unconventional accommodation (e.g. garages, caravans and industrial premises) and sofa surfing. 
  • Estimates for 2022 and earlier years are calculated by combining data from a range of sources - household surveys, statutory statistics, administrative data and specialised surveys of services and their users - to produce the most up to date estimate of the worst forms of homelessness. There have been changes to the core homelessness data set based on improved and enhanced data collection since the last iteration of the core homelessness series.  
  • Projections for 2024 and further into the future are calculated based on a sub-regional housing market model used in other research and adapted for the Homelessness Monitor series. It includes data on and forecasts for homelessness and temporary accommodation, private housing completions, house prices, private market rents, lettings and net changes in private rental tenure, housing vacancies, net relets of social rented housing, household income levels, poverty after housing costs (AHC). It takes into account the current economic context using OBR, Treasury and independent forecasts and includes modelling of the impact of the pandemic on homelessness levels as well.  
  • The analysis uses evidence about the length of time over which people experience different forms of homelessness. This is necessary because different sources measure over different time periods, and it is helpful in minimising double counting to convert these to a common point in time basis. The estimates also make allowances for the extent to which different sources do or do not cover certain groups, for example people who do not apply to a local authority for assistance, or the under-representation of people who move around a lot in some surveys. The analysis draws on 10 different data sources, combining these in a way which reflects judgements on the robustness of the different sources. 

A table summarising core homelessness estimates and projections is below. Figures 5.4 and 5.5 in the full report also illustrate how these figures play out across different types of homelessness and broad regions of England.  ​

Estimated levels of ‘core’ homelessness in England in … 

























​A full technical report outlining the core homelessness methodology has also been published here.