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New study captures the severity of the homelessness crisis

The research shows homelessness is now a concern for one in five people in the UK, causing members of the public to call on the next government to build more social homes.

A new study, which was published yesterday by Places for People, has revealed that 21% of people living in the UK fear they or someone they know will become homeless within the next 12 months. When looking at this devastating statistic more closely, it was found that the worry is greater in renters rather than those who own their own home.

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Researchers found that 30% of individuals who privately rent are concerned about homelessness compared to 29% of people who live in social housing and 15% of homeowners.

Against this backdrop, recent government statistics show people in the UK have more than a right to be concerned about the growing homelessness crisis. The data found 3,898 people were counted as sleeping rough across England on a single night in Autumn 2023, and 121 in Wales. In Scotland, 2,438 households reported rough sleeping during the previous three months before applying for support in 2022/2023.  

However, the bleak pictures doesn’t just stop here. In addition to showcasing the number of people sleeping rough in the UK, the government figures also show households living in temporary accommodation is at its highest ever level, with 112,660 in England, 15,625 in Scotland and 5,700 in Wales. What’s more, there are 1.29 million households waiting for a social home in England, 110,900 in Scotland and 90,000 in Wales.  

‘These figures should alarm us all. What we found has bluntly exposed the worry that exists throughout the country. Sadly, however, they do not come as a surprise – for too long we have been highlighting the seriousness of the ever-growing homelessness crisis facing the UK,’ John Greaves, chief impact officer at Places for People, said. ‘With renters in both social and private properties most concerned, everything people are telling us points towards a desperate need to build more social homes, although delivering the right mix of all tenures remains vital to ease overall pressure. At Places for People, we’re doing all we can to build more quality homes, including for social rent, and we support those who have fallen on hard times and are being let down by the welfare system, but we can only do so much.’

Greaves added: ‘We know that building 90,000 social homes a year will be a challenge, but we’re ready to help. We see an opportunity to deepen our collaboration with partners and work closely together as part of public-interest-led development groups. This would bring developers, local authorities, members of the public and others together on larger schemes to plan and deliver the quality homes needed in a more joined-up and community-focussed way. This could be supported by giving Homes England greater flexibility over funding to deliver on more challenging sites. We want to put ourselves forward to work closely with Homes England and a local authority on a specific site to trial this model, building on the development corporation approach.   

‘As a sector, the concerns we have raised time and time again around the need for more social homes have not been listened to by Government in recent years. So, we are now urging whoever forms the next Government to listen to the people of the UK and put delivering more social homes at the top of your priority list. Talking’s over, it’s time to build.’

Following the outcome of its survey, Places for People, which owns or manages more than 245,000 homes across the UK including 74,000 social homes, is calling on the next government to prioritise social housing targets.

Image: Arian Malek khosravi

More on this topic:

Nottingham homes renovation scheme complete to combat homelessness

Mayor of London pledges to end homelessness under one condition

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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