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The Homelessness Monitor: Great Britain 2012

The Homelessness Monitor: Great Britain 2012 is the first annual report of an independent study, funded by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in England.

Key findings

  • The causation of homelessness is complex, with no single ‘trigger’ that is either ‘necessary’ or ‘sufficient’ for it to occur. Individual, interpersonal and structural factors all play a role – and interact with each other – and the balance of causes differs over time, between countries, and varies between demographic groups. With respect to the main structural factors, housing market trends appear to have the most direct impact on levels of homelessness in many European countries, with the influence of labour market change more likely to be a lagged and diffuse effect, strongly mediated by welfare arrangements.
  • This is therefore a very concerning time for homelessness in Great Britain: the weakening of welfare protection in a context of wider recessionary and housing market pressures is already having a negative effect on those most vulnerable to homelessness, with the prospect of much worse to come. In England specifically, policy measures which are weakening the housing safety net previously available to those in greatest need may further exacerbate homelessness.
  • In England, both rough sleeping and statutory homelessness are on a sharp upward trajectory. The national rough sleeper ‘snapshot’ count rose by 23% between Autumn 2010 and Autumn 20111 – a more dramatic growth dynamic than anything seen since the 1990s. By June 2012, quarterly statutory homelessness acceptances in England had increased 34% on their end 2009 minimum. Temporary accommodation (TA) placements have also risen, with Bed and Breakfast hotel placements almost doubling over the past two years. There has been a particularly alarming rise in the numbers of households with children in B&B, from 630 in March 2010 to 1,660 in March 2012.
  • Facilitated by a larger social housing stock than in England and Wales, Scotland has taken a distinctive approach on homelessness in the post-devolution period, radically broadening its statutory safety net such that, by end 2012, all unintentionally homeless households will be entitled to settled housing. While this expansion in statutory entitlements was associated with an initial rise in homelessness applications to Scottish local authorities, these have now been declining slowly since 2005/06, with a particularly sharp (19%) drop over the past year associated with the implementation of more pro-active prevention policies by Scottish councils.
  • There is less data available on homelessness in Wales than in England or Scotland, with no national monitoring of levels of rough sleeping. Statutory homelessness acceptances are trending upwards in Wales, albeit at a slightly more modest rate than in England, with acceptances having risen 17% over the past two years. Temporary accommodation placements are also on a rising trend (11% increase over the past two years). Wales seems likely to legislate in 2013 to strengthen the statutory duties on local authorities to prevent homelessness.


Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G. & Wilcox, S. (2016) The Homelessness Monitor: Great Britain 2016, London: Crisis.