UK Homelessness Increases
The charity Crisis claims that over 600,000 households are now over-crowded, causing a 'hidden homelessness' in the most popular areas, such as London and the south-east.
Last year over 44,000 people were given social housing, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. This is the first time the figure has increased for nearly a decade.
And the number of people housed by councils in temporary accommodation such as hotel rooms has increased by 14 per cent, to 189,000. Government reforms are set to limit the time people can stay in temporary accommodation to one year, a move criticised by Crisis.
Although only a small minority of the homeless actually sleep rough, that number also seems to be rising, with eight per cent more people sleeping on the streets in London
Half of London's rough sleepers are migrants from outside the UK, particularly from eastern Europe. They have often come to Britain but found themselves unable to secure work or benefits, and without the money to return home.
The economic downturn and the government's deep cuts to welfare will drive up homelessness over the next few years, raising the spectre of middle class people living on the streets.
The charity says the evidence is that the current recession has seen the poor suffer the most, but other parts of society may be in jeopardy if the government's radical welfare agenda is acted on as the economy stutters.
"Any significant reduction of the welfare safety net in the UK as a result of coalition reforms may, of course, bring the scenario of middle-class homelessness that much closer," the report states.
The charity says that the government needs to reverse cuts to housing benefit and invest urgently in new housing. It also calls on ministers to withdraw the most radical provisions in the localism bill, which would make "temporary accommodation" for needy families just that. Under the new legislation, councils would be forced to remove parents and children who have been in a hotel for a year. At present the assistance is open-ended.