Publication of the quarterly statistics for January-March 2015 by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has revealed the growing number of families designated as homeless, either because they no longer have a legal right to their home, or are unable to stay there because it is not reasonable for them to do so. If this is the case, households can apply to their local authorities for housing assistance. In the latest quarter, 13,520 households were accepted, an 8 per cent rise on the equivalent quarter of 2015.
For the majority of households accepted as priority, 67 per cent, dependent children in the household was the primary reason, a total of 9,040 households, while a further 7 per cent included a pregnant woman. Other priority reasons were mental illness, physical disability or young people.
Chief executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said England was "sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis" and council workers were saying official homelessness figures did not accurately reflect trends in their area.
"Clearly something is going badly wrong with our private rented sector," he added. "More and more households are struggling to pay their rent in an increasingly insecure market, while cuts to housing benefit have left the safety net in tatters. For anyone finding themselves in difficulty, the prospects are decidedly bleak."
The immediate solution for many of the households accepted in this quarter, 62 per cent, is temporary accommodation. As of the 31st March, 64,710 households remained in temporary accommodation, 11 per cent more than on the same date of 2014. Out of these households, 48,880 included children or a pregnant woman.
88 per cent of these were living in self-contained accommodation, but 2,570 families, 5 per cent, were in bed and breakfast style accommodation. This is a rise of 35 per cent in a year. Furthermore, 36 per cent of these had been in bed and breakfast style accommodation for over 6 weeks, a rise of 111 per cent since March 2014, from 1,900.
Plans are in place to help homeless households, including an increase of spending since 2010, providing more than £500 million to local authorities and the voluntary sector. However, the number of homeless families has risen since last year, with 93,000 children in England living in temporary accommodation.