April 12, 2018 / 9:22 AM / 2 months ago

Thousands grapple to secure homes as England housing crisis bites

LONDON, April 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 100,000 households in England could be living in bed and breakfast accommodation and hostels by 2020 due to a critical housing shortage, a study showed on Thursday.

The report by charity group Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JFR) said current trends indicated the crisis would get worse as local councils battled to find homes for those in need.

It said 78,000 homeless households were in temporary accommodation so far in 2018, with Britain experiencing a housing crisis as homebuilding has declined since the 1970s, driving up property prices faster than wages.

“High housing costs, low pay and insecure work are locking people in poverty restricting their choices: with councils finding it harder to help, more families are being forced into temporary accommodation,” JRF Chief Executive Campbell Robb said in a statement.

Government data shows about one in six properties in England, or 4 million homes, are social housing, a figure that has stagnated for a decade.

The Crisis and JFR report, which is published each year, said 70 percent of local councils said they struggled to find social housing for homeless people last year.

About 89 percent of local authorities surveyed said they had also found it difficult to secure private rented accommodation with more landlords not wanting to rent to people on welfare.

“It is pretty much impossible to access the private rental sector. The cost of doing so is prohibitive and the solution is unsustainable because of the massive disparity between LHA (local housing allowance) rates and market rent,” one council in the Midlands said in the report.

Sleeping on the streets – or rough sleeping – has risen in England for seven consecutive years, according to government figures, with more than 1,000 homeless in London and more than 4,100 nationally, a 134 percent jump since 2010.

Britain’s parliament last year passed the Homelessness Reduction Act, which was designed to ensure that local councils increased obligations towards homeless people.

The government has set an ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. (Reporting by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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