Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 9 News List

Living on the street in the UK

By Holly Bentley

Under the UK's 2002 Homelessness Act, all households in England and Wales that are officially recognized as homeless are entitled to advice and support from their local authority. However, a household is entitled to accommodation only if the local authority is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need.

• The homelessness charity Crisis has estimated that there are about 400,000 “hidden homeless” people, a category that includes all those who satisfy the legal definition of homelessness, but have not been provided with accommodation.

• In the last three months of last year, local authorities in England accepted 12,070 people or family groups as being owed suitable accommodation.

• 4 percent of these acceptances were in cases where homelessness resulted from mortgage arrears. There has been a steady increase in the proportion of such acceptances since 2003.

• According to the UK’s Council of Mortgage Lenders, there were 40,000 repossessions last year, while in 2007 there were 7,100.

• Research by the homelessness charity Shelter predicts that the recent collapse in house building will mean a total housing shortfall in England of almost 1 million by 2020.

• The most recent local authority street counts show at least 483 people are sleeping rough in England a night.

• Nationally, there are 187 day centers serving an estimated 10,000 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness every day.

SOURCES: CRISIS, HOMELESS LINK, SHELTER, THE COUNCIL OF MORTGAGE LENDERS,DEPARTMENT FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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