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UK Homelessness Crisis Reaches Record Levels

Temporary Accommodation Figures Soar, Children Highly Affected

England’s homelessness crisis is at its peak, with the number of households and children resorting to temporary accommodation reaching record levels, according to recent statistics.

By the end of March, temporary accommodations were housing 104,510 households, a record not seen in 25 years. Among these households, 64,940 included children. An alarming number of 131,370 children found themselves in these temporary residences, the highest figure since tracking began in 2004. 

These latest statistics, provided by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, reveal a concerning upward trend in homelessness. Riverside, England’s largest provider of accommodation for the homeless, expressed serious concern over these statistics. 

Compared with the same period last year, both the figures for households and children in temporary accommodation show a surge of approximately 10%. 

Assistance Requests and Relief Duties Rise Amidst the Crisis

Authorities have also seen a rise in aid requests from homeless or at-risk households. By the end of March, 83,240 households sought help from local authorities, marking a 5.7% increase from the previous year.

In the first quarter of the year, local authorities identified 41,950 households as homeless, thereby providing them with a relief duty, a help initiative to secure settled accommodation. Among these households, 11,250 included children, marking a 12.1% rise from the same period last year.

B&B Accommodations and Rough Sleepers Exacerbate the Situation

First-quarter figures show that 13,780 households in temporary accommodation were living in bed and breakfasts (B&Bs), an increase of more than a third (37.4%) compared to the previous year. Among these B&Bs, 3,930 were housing households with dependent children, a staggering increase of 131.2%. 

Regrettably, 1,840 of these households have been living in these B&Bs for longer than the legal limit of six weeks, a 14.3% increase from the previous quarter. This figure has more than doubled from 670 at the end of March 2022. 

Meanwhile, rough sleepers requesting help from their local authorities increased by nearly a fifth (18.2%) in the first quarter compared to the previous year, equating to 3,770 households.

Summary of Key Figures:

– Households in temporary accommodation at the end of March: 104,510

– Households with children in temporary accommodation: 64,940

– Children in temporary accommodation: 131,370

– Households requesting assistance due to homelessness or risk: 83,240

– Households provided with relief duty: 41,950

– Households with children given relief duty: 11,250

– Households in B&Bs: 13,780

– Households with dependent children in B&Bs: 3,930

– Households in B&Bs for more than six weeks: 1,840

– Rough sleeping households requesting assistance: 3,770

These figures underscore the seriousness of the homelessness crisis in England, calling for urgent measures and sustainable solutions to secure settled accommodation for those affected.

Tackling Homelessness in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Beyond

Possible Solutions for Housing Crisis

Within the regions of Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch, an opportunity arises to tackle the burgeoning homelessness crisis. A 2022 Report from Action On Empty Homes highlights the existence of around 7,000 homes that currently stand vacant. Additionally, the area boasts about 5,000 properties categorised as second homes. These separate figures point towards potential reservoirs of housing that could be utilised to combat the alarming rise in homelessness.

The government along with BCP might consider adopting strategies similar to those proposed in the recent Levelling Up White Paper. Such strategies would open up avenues for local authorities and individuals to purchase, lease, and refurbish these vacant homes, thereby providing affordable housing options.

Further proposals include introducing long-term incentives to encourage councils and property owners to make vacant properties habitable. These incentives could involve property tax reductions or exemptions, such as removing VAT on home and energy efficiency improvements. Additionally, offering discounts or exemptions to Council Tax and Stamp Duty when empty properties are bought and utilised could spur action.

Moreover, the conversion of suitable larger empty commercial premises into residential use could provide an additional solution. This would contribute towards increasing housing options, which could go a significant way towards addressing the current crisis.

Summary of Possible Proposed Solutions:

– Purchase, lease, and refurbishment of unoccupied homes.

– Introduction of long-term incentives, including VAT removal on home and energy efficiency improvements.

– Council Tax and Stamp Duty discounts or exemptions for revived empty properties.

– Conversion of vacant larger commercial premises into residential units.

These proposed strategies would not only provide immediate relief to those affected by homelessness but also set a long-term course for affordable housing solutions in Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch.

NEED HELP?

If you are facing homelessness or indeed are having to sleep-rough and require a housing assessment contact BCP Council on 01202 123 147 or visit this page: https://www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/Housing/Homelessness-and-rough-sleeping/Request-a-housing-needs-assessment.aspx 

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