Over a million households at risk of becoming homeless in the UK

More than a million households living in private rented accommodation are reportedly at risk of becoming homeless by 2020 because of rising rents, benefit freezes and a lack of social housing, according to a devastating new report into the UK’s heightened housing crisis.

A recent study by the homelessness charity Shelter reveals that rising numbers of families on low incomes are not only unable to afford to buy their own home but are also toiling to pay even the lowest available rents in the private sector, leading to ever higher levels of eviction and homelessness.

The findings will place greater pressure on the government over housing policy following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster in west London, which exposed the neglect and disregard for people living in council-owned properties in one of the wealthiest areas of the capital.

The recent Shelter report highlights how a crisis of affordability and provision is gripping millions with no option but to look for homes in the private rented sector due to a shortage of social housing.

Across the UK it has been calculated that, if the housing benefit freeze remains in place as planned until 2020, more than a million households, including 375,000 with at least one person in work, could be forced out of their homes. It estimates that 211,000 households in which no one works because of disability could be forced to go.

A total of 14,420 households were accepted by local authorities as homeless between October and December 2016, up by more than half since 2009 – with 78% of the increase since 2011 being the result of people losing their previous private tenancy. Local authorities are under immense pressure with a legal obligation to seek emergency accommodation, such as in bed and breakfasts.

In its report “Shut out: the barriers low-income households face in private renting”, Shelter calls for the freeze on the local housing allowance (paid to those renting privately) to be lifted with immediate effect. The same demand has also been made by the Local Government Association, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Chartered Institute of Housing.

“There is an assumption in housing policy that the private rented sector will be the default tenure for those priced out of homeownership or unable to secure a social tenancy, but this is increasingly not working,” it says. “As the social rented sector contracts, private housing may have replaced it as the main tenure for people in housing need. But the market’s limitations mean that significant government intervention is needed if it is to play an expanded role in preventing homelessness and housing people on low incomes.”

“For households experiencing multiple moves, the repeated costs of fees, deposits and rent in advance can pull them further into debt. Our advice services tell us that private landlords are increasingly asking for guarantors, who can be difficult for low-income households to secure.” London has seen some of the biggest rent increases since 2011-12, with the cheapest average rents rising on average by 6% a year for one- and two-bedroom properties. In Bristol, average rents at the lowest end of the market have also risen 6% a year for one-beds and for two-beds. In Luton, one-bed and two-bed rents have increased by 5% annually.

Nationwide, the increase in rents is starkest for rooms in shared houses, with rents increasing by nearly 4% annually over the time period. In London, rents for rooms in shared houses saw annual increases of 7%. A review by the Smith Institute cited a council officer saying that rooms in the private rented sector that had previously been used to meet housing needs were now being rented out to young professionals who were able to pay the far higher rents.

By December 2016, nearly 76,000 households were living in emergency temporary accommodation such as bed and breakfasts, of which 60,000 were families with children or pregnant mothers. This is more than 10% up on the previous year and 58% more than in 2010 when just over 48,000 households were living in temporary accommodation.

At Whitecrest Care, we specialize in providing accommodation for homeless people in a supportive environment across the UK. Our supported Living solutions are carefully designed to fit everyone regardless of faith, culture, ethnic origin, race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. Give us a call today.

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