250,000 people homeless in England, Shelter warns

Housing charity Shelter has released analysis showing more than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England.

The statistics revealed Luton, Brighton, Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester as hotspots for homelessness, in addition to London, which had the highest homelessness rate.

The analysis includes official statistics from four different forms of recorded homelessness: national government statistics on rough sleepers; statistics on those in temporary accommodation; the number of people housed in hostels; the number of people waiting to be housed by social services departments (obtained through Freedom of Information requests).

Commenting on the statistics, Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: "Shelter's founding shone a light on hidden homelessness in the 1960s slums. But while those troubled times have faded into memory, 50 years on a modern-day housing crisis is tightening its grip on our country.

"Hundreds of thousands of people will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas.

"Decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes and cuts to welfare support."

The Department for Communities and Local Government said homelessness was down on the 2003 figures and added: "However, we know that one person without a home is one too many.

"That is why the government is investing over £500 million during the course of this parliament to tackle homelessness.

"This includes protecting £315 million for local authority homelessness prevention funding and £149m for central government funding."

Martin Tett, the housing spokesman for the Local Government Association Housing, commented: "Finding emergency housing for homeless people, particularly young or vulnerable people or those with families, is increasingly difficult for councils.

"Councils need powers and funding to address the widening gap between incomes and rents, resume their historic role as a major builder of new affordable homes and join up all local services - such as health, justice and skills.

"This is the only way to deliver our ambition to end homelessness."