Homelessness affecting new groups of people

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has claimed that homelessness is increasingly affecting families from areas and professions that would never have encountered the problem before.

Still No Place Like Home, the ombudsman’s report, finds that many homelessness complaints are from people who might never have anticipated being made homeless, but who have been forced to call on their local council’s help by the increasing unaffordability of private tenancies.

Last year, the ombudsman received nearly 450 complaints about homelessness, finding fault in seven out of 10 cases.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “Our cases show many pre-conceived ideas about the people affected by homelessness simply no longer ring true. The increasing cost of private rents has meant we have seen a shift towards more people in professions such as nursing, and their families, becoming affected.

“Many of these families are being placed in poor quality accommodation, for periods significantly longer than the six-week legal limit. And we’re seeing signs the problems are growing more acute, particularly with an increase in the length of time families are having to stay in temporary accommodation. More worrying still, we are finding that many families are not being told of their review rights when placed in unsuitable accommodation, so they have no information on how to challenge the decision and improve their circumstances.”

Meanwhile, latest government homelessness statistics show there were 79,190 households in temporary accommodation at the end of September 2017, and increase of six per cent from the previous year. This figure of temporary accommodation has now risen by more than 50 per cent in the past five years.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “Housing is becoming more and more unaffordable, and urgent measures are needed to tackle our national shortage of affordable homes. Local authorities do all they can to place people in the best accommodation available, but the reality is that with limited housing options, councils often find themselves having to extend stays in temporary accommodation, as the only alternative is that families and individuals find themselves out on the streets. With limited housing stock and a £5.8 billion overall funding shortfall by 2020, councils are doing all they can to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place, but they urgently need more funding and resources from government.”

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