Author Lauren Howells

A new report has revealed that just under 160,000 households across Britain, estimated to be nearly a quarter of a million people, are experiencing the “worst forms” of homelessness.

Expert analysis conducted for homelessness charity Crisis, by Heriot-Watt University, warned that rough sleeping was forecast to rise by 76% in the next decade unless the government took action.

The worst form of homelessness to date

In what is described as the “most complete picture to-date of the worst forms of homelessness”, including sofa surfing, squatting and rough sleeping, the report estimates that, at any one time in Britain last year, around 9,100 people were sleeping rough. Previous estimates had put this at a figure of 4,134 households for England.

Additionally, the report estimated that 68,300 households were sofa surfing, 19,300 households were living in unsuitable temporary accommodation and 37,200 households were living in hostels.

Another 26,000 households were living in other circumstances, including 8,900 sleeping in tents, cars or on public transport, 12,100 households living in squats and 5,000 households in women’s refuges or winter night shelters. 

Those in unsuitable temporary accommodation could double

The report goes on to say that if current policies continue unchanged, the most acute forms of homelessness are likely to continue rising. According to estimates, households in unsuitable temporary accommodation are set to nearly double.

Combatting Homelessness

Analysis of how different policies could impact this possible rise, concludes that an increase in new housing of 60%, could reduce the levels of homelessness by 19%, by 2036. Levels could also be reduced by 34% in the same period, through increased prevention work.

Building a  movement for change

Chief Executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said:

“Regardless of what happens in people’s lives, whatever difficulties they face or choices they make, no one should ever have to face homelessness. With the right support at the right time, it doesn’t need to be inevitable. There are solutions, and we’re determined to find them and make them a reality.

“Yet we can’t do this alone, which is why we’re calling on the public to back our Everybody In campaign and help us build a movement for change. Together we can find the answers, and make sure those in power listen to them.”

“We warmly welcome the Government’s pledge to tackle rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness. Now’s the time for action and long term planning to end homelessness for good.”

The report concluded that if nothing was done to address homelessness, 392,000 households could be experiencing the most acute forms of homelessness by 2041.

Government determined to help most vulnerable

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesperson reportedly said: “This government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society and we’re working to make sure people always have a roof over their head.

“We know this is an issue government can’t solve alone and so welcome Crisis’s support for our commitment to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. 

“Alongside investing £550m to 2020 to address the issue, we’re implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will require councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless. There’s more to do and ministers will set out plans shortly.’

Analysis conducted by The Independent earlier in the summer revealed that homelessness had surged by more than a third under the Conservative Government.