2011 has seen a massive increase in people registered as homeless and people sleeping rough. However, the governments housing minister Grant Schapps claims that 'homelessness' is at a historic low.
The last year has seen workers taking pay cuts, pay freezes, and redundancies. To make matters worse, they are paying more for their food, petrol, utility bills, and for public transport. Many workers have seen a ‘real terms’ pay cut.
One hugely damaging aspect of the financial crisis and austerity measures not mentioned above is the massive rise in people who are registered as homeless, and people who are without any kind of roof over their heads, and forced to sleep rough on Britain’s streets.
2011 has seen:
• A 17% increase in people registering as homeless. The second yearly rise after ten years of numbers reducing.
• A 26% increase in people registered as homeless, but for whom the council have not been able to find accommodation for.
• A 46% increase in people becoming homeless due to the end of a short hold tenancy.
• A 29% increase in families who have been placed in bed and breakfast accommodation because the local authority has not been able to find permanent housing.
• The amount of people actually sleeping rough on the streets has risen back to the level of fourteen years ago. This equates to a 59% increase on people sleeping rough compared to this time last year.
The government’s response is predictably way off the mark. Housing minister Grant Schapps said, “Despite the rise, homelessness is at a ‘historic’ low level.” Obviously not, because a rise would suggest that it is higher than it was last year.
Whilst there may or may not be less people in difficulty than there was fifty years ago, to suggest that we are doing well on ‘homelessness’ in that context is a disgrace, and completely misses the point. Not that I would expect anything less.
I will be very interested to see what happens in London at next year’s Olympics. There is a massive rise in people sleeping rough in London, and I am sure that it will not be an image that the government would want the world to see.