Socialist Worker

Tens of thousands forced into temporary accommodation by Tory austerity

Issue No. 2635

Homelessness in London

Homelessness in London (Pic: Neil Theasby)


The number of households living in temporary accommodation has rocketed by 71 percent under Tory austerity.  

More than 82,000 households were living in bed & breakfasts and short term homes by the end of June 2018.

This includes 123,630 children. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures showed a 5 percent rise since the same 12-month period last year. And they showed a 71 percent rise from 48,010 since 2010 when the Tories got into office.

Temporary accommodation is often used to mask homelessness.

The figures are the first to be released since the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force in April.

The Act was a small concession forced from the Tories by widespread outrage at the scale of the homelessness crisis.

It created new “duties” on local councils to prevent and alleviate homelessness.

The Ministry of Housing figures show that 58,660 households came under the new duties between 3 April and 30 June. Of those some 33,330 were at risk of homelessness—and 25,330 already needed relief from local councils.

Duties 

While the Act created new duties, the Tories’ haven’t stumped up any new cash to help councils fulfil them.

Exclusive - London councils house vulnerable residents on industrial estates
Exclusive - London councils house vulnerable residents on industrial estates
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A spokesperson for the Local Government Association of council leaders said, “Many councils are struggling to cope with rising homelessness and to find suitable accommodation for those in need.”

He added, “The increase in temporary accommodation not only financially unsustainable for councils, but it is hugely disruptive for those in need.”

Temporary accommodation is different to rough sleeping—although it has also seen a sharp rise since 2010.

Those who rely on temporary accommodation include vulnerable people who have escaped violent relationships. And a large proportion—around 25 percent—because they couldn’t find anywhere when their shorthold tenancies came to an end.

Meanwhile another report says more than 24,000 people in Britain will spend the Christmas period sleeping rough or in cars, trains, buses or tents, according to new estimates that throw light on the scale of so-called “hidden” homelessness.

Rough

Research by the charity Crisis suggests 12,300 people are sleeping rough on the streets – the official figure is 4,751 – while a further 12,000 will spend the night in tents, cars, sheds, bins or night buses.

 Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey attacked the Tories for their disgraceful record on homelessness. “When this Conservative Government ends, the national shame of rising homelessness will be on its political tombstone,” he said.

Labour has promised to build 1 million new homes—including 500,000 “social homes”—if it is elected. But “social homes” include those provided by housing associations, which are increasingly run like private landlords.

The solution to the spiralling housing and homelessness crisis is to build decent, council homes for all.


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