Stat Of The Week

Onethird of councillors report a rise in homelessness during the pandemic.

YouGov reported this disturbing statistic on Christmas Eve 2020, but little seems to have changed half a year later. A recent report found that “Councils across England are placing increasing numbers of homeless households in temporary accommodation outside of their areas, in some cases more than 200 miles away,” forcing one man to quit his job due to the three-hour commute.

The same report found a stark correlation between a rise in displaced homeless households and the arrival of the Conservative party as part of the coalition government in 2010. In their 11 year stint as the ruling party, the Tories have overseen a 17% rise in the number of households in temporary accommodation. When framed in context, rising to 27% in 2020 from 10% in 2010, the image becomes much clearer. That figure has nearly tripled in 11 years; for every family displaced in 2010, there are now almost three.

The author of this research, Jack Shaw, explained that “This is a perfect storm. Cuts to housing benefit and local authority budgets, as well as the failure to build the homes needed, are forcing councils to rehome families elsewhere.

The government urgently needs to act to protect families by properly funding homelessness provision in London and increasing the Local Housing Allowance.”

With the pandemic expediting the issue of displaced households, we must consider YouGov’s report again, in which councillors recorded a marginal decrease in rough sleeping on the whole. While this suggests a positive impact during the pandemic, impart due to the government’s investment of “£3.2m in rehousing people during the crisis to limit the spread of coronavirus,” it doesn’t align with housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s claim that “90% of rough sleepers were offered accommodation” during the pandemic.

Further to the foggy numbers around housing rough sleepers, two in five councillors reported that their area has seen numbers stay the same (22%) or increase (21%) since March 2020.

As the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues to ebb and flow towards long-term solutions, we must also give credence to the epidemic of homelessness that the UK has neglected to combat for far too long. Substantial change can seem like a long climb, but when juxtaposed with the eye-watering fact that just 5% of the budget allocated to replace Trident could “eradicate homelessness in 10 years”, it feels undeniable that we simply aren’t doing enough.

Please watch this campaign by UK charity Shelter if you would like to learn more about the homelessness crisis, and join the Fight for Home by donating to Shelter today.