Experts at Cambridge University have found that the number of young people who are homeless triples the government’s official figures.
Over three times more people have had to rely on councils and charities due to homelessness in the past year, finds Cambridge University, with figures reaching 83,000 rather than the governments suggested 26,852. The reports found that at any one time there are around 35,000 young people in homeless accommodation, reports the Independent.
The “worryingly high” levels of young people using homelessness services across Britain is “a minimum estimate and it is likely that in reality more homeless young people access support across the UK”, the research said.
Centrepoint commissioned Cambridge University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research team to provide a comprehensive picture of youth homelessness to date. It looks at official figures in conjunction with examinations of 40 local authorities and a national poll of over 2,000 young people.
“When the poll data was scaled up to reflect the wider population, an estimated 1.3 million young people aged 16 to 24 have slept rough during the past year,” said the research.
“Successive governments have been making policy in the dark as they have failed to grasp the sheer scale of youth homelessness in the UK,” said Balbir Chatrik, policy director of Centrepoint. “We’re seeing the consequences of funding decisions based on this lack of knowledge which have placed extreme pressure on charities and local authorities, with the majority of hostels full or oversubscribed. Young people typically find themselves facing homelessness through no fault of their own. As a society, we owe them a national safety net devised from more than just guesswork.”
Responding to the findings, Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “This research paints a grim picture of youth homelessness in the UK and demonstrates that the Government’s current plan to cut housing benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds could be nothing short of catastrophic – as it’s this which helps to pay for the hostel beds that keep young people off the streets. If the Government really wants to help young people, its first priority should be to invest in the safe, secure and genuinely affordable homes that are so desperately needed, rather than stripping away the threadbare safety net they have at the moment.”
In a statement, a government spokesman said: “Since 2010, we have increased spending to prevent homelessness, making over £500m available to local authorities and voluntary sector.”
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