Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Cost of living crisis will become a homelessness crisis without immediate intervention

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has warned that without urgent intervention the cost of living crisis will become a homelessness crisis.

The Government’s latest Snapshot Rough Sleeping figures released today (28 February 2023) shows that on a single night in autumn 2022 there were 3,069 people seen sleeping rough in England.

That is an increase of more than a quarter (26%) on the previous year’s total of 2,440 – with the number of people sleeping rough increasing in every region of England.

The data also shows:

  • the number of women sleeping rough is up by 45%, increasing from 320 to 464,
  • an increase in the number of people aged between 18-25 sleeping rough. Up from 110 in 2021 to 192 in 2022,
  • Westminster, has the highest number of people sleeping rough in the country, and has seen an increase from 187 in 2021 to 250 in 2022.

Responding to the figures, St Mungo’s Chief Executive Emma Haddad said “The increase in the number of people sleeping rough shows the stark effect of the cost of living crisis. Our frontline teams are increasingly seeing people who are losing their homes and ending up on the streets because they can no longer afford their rent, energy bills and food.

“And while the Government has clearly made efforts to support people to manage during these difficult times, much more needs to be done urgently to prevent those who are on the brink falling into homelessness.

“In two weeks the Chancellor will deliver his Spring Budget. We urge him to use it to increase housing benefit to ensure people can afford their rents. And for the Government to legislate the Renters’ Reform Bill abolishing ‘no fault’ evictions and reducing the number of people becoming street homeless. Failure to act will see this cost of living crisis become a homelessness crisis.

“But whatever we face, St Mungo’s teams will continue to work day in, day out to ensure anyone sleeping rough is offered the help and support they need to move off the streets.”

In the areas where the St Mungo’s operates, the numbers show a:

  • 28% increase in London, from 640 to 858 people,
  • 13% increase in the South West, from 334 to 413 people, and
  • 19 % increase in the South East, from 445 to 572 people.

The snapshot figures are based on a single night street count which every local authority in England undertakes each year during October and November, or estimates from local councils which are verified and agreed by Homeless Link.

It does not include people who live in hostels or other temporary accommodation.

St Mungo’s is recommending the following shorter and longer term actions to help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness:

  • The Government should unfreeze and restore Local Housing Allowance rates so that they cover the bottom 30th percentile of rents.
  • The Government should urgently legislate the Renters Reform Bill, in order to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions and reduce numbers arriving onto the streets.
  • People with unclear or limited entitlements due to their immigration status should be included in means-tested cost of living support packages.
  • Increase grant funding delivered through the Affordable Homes Programme and commit the funds from the Right to Buy scheme to a strategic acquisition programme to deliver more social rented homes.
  • Increase the supply of supported housing through delivering investment programmes that align capital and revenue funding.

 

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