Socialist Worker

Homelessness hits a record high in London

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2735

Record numbers of people are now homeless in London

Record numbers of people are now homeless in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Homelessness in London now stands at a 15-year record high, councils have warned.

“Worst-ever levels” mean 62,670 households are living in temporary accommodation—two thirds of the overall figure for England.

This includes 89,850 children from the capital who were set to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

Homelessness has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

But as temperatures plunge, spaces in hostels and shelters are limited to ensure social distancing.

More than 700 people in London are thought to be sleeping rough and around 3,000 are in emergency accommodation.

Last week two homeless people were found dead in Oxford.

One was a Polish national, another a Latvian national. The government has threatened to deport rough sleepers, making them less likely to come forward to access services.

Last week another man was found dead at a Glasgow hotel used to house the city’s homeless population.

The death is believed to be the ninth at the Alexander Thomson Hotel on Argyle Street.

It has been used for emergency shelter for the homeless during since March.

At the start of the pandemic, the government claimed it would end rough sleeping and provide decent accommodation. But that was a lie. During the first lockdown, the government funded 15,000 hotel stays for the homeless.

Lockdown

But disgracefully this was not repeated in the second lockdown.

An estimated 778 homeless people registered in England and Wales died in 2019—that’s 52 more than in 2018.

This was the highest number of deaths since the figures began to be collected in 2013.

And as more people face homelessness, the London Councils group said there is “extreme pressure” on services.

Temporary accommodation accounts for 80 percent of homelessness budgets.

If the government made more social housing available, this cost would be dramatically reduced.

London Councils called for changes to the welfare system, long-term funding plans for homelessness services and a boost to social housing.

More than one in ten rough sleepers nationwide are now under 25—the highest level recorded.

But separate emergency hotel accommodation for this group has been shelved due to lack of funding.

Job losses, a short-lived eviction ban, and government funding cuts have escalated the problem. 

Councils and charities are left to try and pick up the pieces.

During a global pandemic, the Tories have left record levels of adults and children without a permanent home this Christmas.


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