There are many causes of homelessness, both structural and individual, but the availability (and affordability and suitability) of housing is an important factor. Rough sleepers are perhaps the most visible of all the housing issues covered in this report and the number recorded in the MHCLG statistics has more than doubled over the last eight years. However, there are some concerns about the data quality given the data collection methodology.
Information on ‘statutory’ homelessness, where local authorities are legally obliged to provide accommodation, is readily available from MHCLG. It is more robust than the rough sleeping data though it’s worth noting the recent transition to a new data collection regime may cause some slight inconsistencies with older data. This data shows that statutory homelessness has increased in recent years and highlights the challenges faced by local authorities as they struggle to cope house people and so spend more on a rising number of households living in temporary accommodation (chart below).
Crisis’s The Homeless Monitor shows that the ‘vast bulk’ of the rise in statutory homelessness is due to evictions from the private rented sector. The chart below highlights this issue with the termination of an assured shorthold tenancy given as the biggest single reason for loss of the last home (other reasons is a broad group).
The Crisis report and others suggest that changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is a major driver of this trend. The increase in homelessness has led to an increase in the number of households (and children) living in temporary accommodation over the last eight years. Meanwhile there’s an unknown number of hidden homeless: people sleeping on friend’s sofas, in cars and vans, or in other unsuitable accommodation.