London has seen a 27% rise in people accepted as homeless, with the problem far worse in the capital than in the rest of the country, according to homelessness charity Crisis.
One in four people declared homeless in England in 2012’s second quarter were in London. Rough sleeping is also on the increase, with a massive 43% rise in 2011/12 over the previous 12 months.
According to data from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 3,350 households across London met the ‘priority need’ criteria to qualify for housing assistance in 2012’s second quarter. This compared to 2,640 households in the second quarter of 2011 (a 27% rise). However, things are even worse when the figures are compared with 2010’s second quarter levels, when 1,050 households qualified for ‘priority need’ (a 46% rise).
Nationally, homeless acceptances are up 9%. After London, the second hardest-hit region was the South East, which saw a 13% rise to 1,380 households.
Crisis claims that the DCLG’s figures only represent a fraction of the real problem. It claims the ‘hidden homeless’ – single people living on sofas, squatting or living in substandard lodgings – are not counted in the official statistics. Crisis claims that the ‘hidden homeless’ number is in the tens of thousands.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Sadly, it is no surprise that we see homelessness rising so quickly in London.
“Though homelessness is going up nationally, it is Londoners who are particularly vulnerable as rents and housing waiting lists are so high, while unemployment and underemployment caused by the economic downturn keep the pressure on.
“We are building just a tiny fraction of the new homes we need while government cuts to housing benefit are hitting households across the capital and making it harder to re-house those who are already homeless.
“We need the Mayor of London, the boroughs and other partners and nationally the new Housing Minister to ensure tackling and resolving homelessness in all its forms is a clear and persistent priority.”
London Assembly Green Party Member Darren Johnson said: “The Mayor has failed to recognise that private rented housing is simply too expensive and insecure in London. The tragic consequence is that more people are unable to keep a stable home and are ending up living in sheds, sleeping on friends’ sofas or stuck in B&Bs.
“The Mayor’s aims of halving the number of people who are homeless and of ending rough sleeping are distant dreams if things continue in this direction. Nothing less than a radical change to private rented housing will do.”
– 24 Dash