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23 YEAR LOW IN NEW CASES OF HOMELESSNESS

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New cases of homelessness have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1980s, housing minister Yvette Cooper anno...
New cases of homelessness have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1980s, housing minister Yvette Cooper announced today.

National Statistics released today show that just under 19,500 new households became homeless during April to June of this year. This is nearly 30% lower than the same time last year (the biggest such percentage reduction ever recorded) and continues the downward trend seen since the beginning of 2004.

The figures also show a continued reduction of households in temporary accommodation, down 7% compared to the same time last year.

There has been a steady drop in the number of households in temporary accommodation over the last six months - the figure having now reduced to 93,910.

Ms Cooper also announced today that the prime minister's target, to reduce rough sleeping numbers by two thirds, is being sustained.

Today's statistics show that there are around 500 rough sleepers in England on any given night.

Ms Cooper said:

'We've made great progress in preventing and tackling homelessness with numbers falling to a twenty three year low. This record reduction shows the success of prevention schemes funded by£300m worth of government investment. Rough sleeping has also dropped by more than two thirds since 1998.

'As we approach the 40th anniversary of 'Cathy Come Home', this government has introduced a safety net which is amongst the strongest in the world and provides protection for families with children like Cathy.

'However, there are still too many people in temporary accommodation and overcrowded conditions and we need to continue the work to prevent rough sleeping. The challenge is to provide more settled homes. That's why we need to build more homes across the board - more market housing, more social housing, more homes for shared equity and more affordable homes.'

Since 2003 local authorities have had strategies in place to prevent and tackle homelessness. By 2008 the government will have invested£300m for prevention services; schemes include rent deposit schemes and mediation services.

The government has committed to increasing the rate of house building to 200,000 new homes each year by 2016 to address the supply and affordability problems. We also plan to build an extra 10,000 social homes a year by 2008 - a 50 per cent increase on current rates. The government is also consulting on raising the overcrowding standard, and have invested£20m to help tackle the problem.

The government is committed to reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation by 50 per cent by 2010. While 85 per cent of households in temporary accommodation are living in self contained housing, they do not provide the security and opportunities a settled home brings.

Notes

1. The Statistical Release to accompany the publication of these figures can be found at:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=2234

2. The government's homelessness strategy - Sustainable Communities:

settled homes; changing lives was published on 14 March 2005.

3. The strategy takes forward innovative measures announced in ODPM's

5 year plan Sustainable Communities: Homes for All, supported by increased investment in homelessness prevention from£60m in

2005/06 to£74m in 2007/08. It includes a target to cut the number of households living in temporary accommodation by half by 2010 also sets out steps to provide more settled homes and initiatives across government departments to tackle the wider symptoms and causes of homelessness, including action on health, employment, relationship breakdown, services for children and other associated issues.

4. In the second quarter of 2006 the total number of homelessness acceptances was 19,430 a reduction of 29 per cent over the same period last year.

5. During April to June 2006, local authorities made 41,700 decisions on homeless applications. This is 32 per cent lower than the corresponding quarter in 2005.

6. 93,910 households were in temporary accomodation on 30th June 2006, 7% lower than the same period in 2005.

7. This year's annual rough sleeper count estimates can be found at:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/embedded_object.asp?id=1502705

8. A break-down of the statistics by local authority can be found at:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/embedded_object.asp?id=1502777

9. DCLG today also launched; a Policy Brief which summarises the second quarter 2006 homelessness statistics and introduces Preventing

Homelessness: A Strategy Health Check; and a self-assessment toolkit

- Preventing Homelessness: A Strategy Health Check to help local authorities review their homelessness strategy and establish how effective their services are in tackling and preventing homelessness.

10. 'Tackling Overcrowding in England - A discussion paper' can be found at http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1501587

11. The government's response to Kate Barker's Review of Housing Supply December 2005 set out plans for increased housing growth in response to continued rising housing demand in every region and increasing pressures on first-time buyers. Currently around 160,000 homes are built every year. The government has committed to increasing this to 200,000 new homes each year by 2016 to address the supply and affordability problems. Further information can be found at www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1162076

Statutory Homelessness: 2nd quarter 2006, England

This release provides summary information, collected through the quarterly P1E returns, on local housing authorities' activities under homelessness legislation. This includes the number of households accepted, as owed the main homelessness duty (referred to as

acceptances) during the quarter and the number of households in temporary accommodation on the last day of the quarter. The Notes to Editors section 'Definition of terms' provides more detail of terms used, as footnoted, within the release.

To access the full statistical release, please see:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1002882&PressNoticeID=2234

Key information from data collected for April - June 2006 show that:

Household acceptances1

* There were 19,430 acceptances, during the April - June quarter, 29 per cent lower than in the same period in 2005. This is the first time acceptances have fallen below 20,000 since the early 1980s.

* On a seasonally-adjusted2 basis, there were 19,220 acceptances, 7 per cent lower than the previous quarter, and the lowest number since the adjusted series began.

* The continued fall in the number of adjusted and unadjusted acceptances confirms the overall downward trend that started around the beginning of 2004.

Households in temporary accommodation3

* 93,910 households were in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2006,

3 per cent lower than at the end of the previous quarter, and 7 per cent lower than this time last year.

* This continues the last two quarters' downward trend, which follows a period when numbers had been static at around 101,000.

* 85 per cent of households were in self-contained accommodation4, 5 per cent in bed and breakfast hotels (250 fewer than last quarter, and 1,390 fewer than one year ago), and the remainder in other forms of shared-facility units.

* 74 per cent of households in temporary accommodation included dependant children.

Decisions5 taken by local authorities on homeless applications During April to June, local authorities made 41,700 decisions on homeless applications. This is 32 per cent lower than the corresponding quarter in 2005. After seasonal adjustment the number of decisions was 42,220, 8 per cent lower when compared to the previous quarter.

The number of decisions this quarter is the lowest since the early 1980s, in terms of unadjusted figures.

Link to Table 1: Decisions by type of decision

Decisions taken

Of the 41,700 applications made during the second quarter of 2006: 47 per cent of applicants were accepted, as owed the main homelessness duty;

26 per cent were found to be not homeless;

20 per cent were found to be homeless but not in priority need; and 7 per cent were found to be intentionally homeless and in priority need.

Households accepted1 as owed a main homelessness duty (acceptances) Between April and June, local authorities accepted 19,430 households as being owed the main homelessness duty (acceptances). This is 29 per cent lower when compared with the corresponding quarter last year. After seasonal adjustment the number of acceptances during the second quarter of 2006 was 19,220, 7 per cent lower than the previous quarter and the lowest seasonally adjusted quarterly total since the series started in 1997. Furthermore this is the first time the number of acceptances has fallen below 20,000 since the early 1980s.

Acceptances by ethnicity and by region

Between April and June, 75 per cent of acceptances were from households classified as White, and 20 per cent from an ethnic minority group. The remainder were from households where the ethnic origin was not known. This breakdown has not changed significantly in recent years.

Compared to the population as a whole, where 8 per cent of households are from an ethnic minority group, there is a far higher incidence of acceptances amongst these groups than amongst the White population.

However, there is large variation in the ethnicity across the regions. In London, 41 per cent of acceptances were white, while in the East of England the proportion was 90 per cent. London had the highest percentage of acceptances from Black and Asian groups (30 and

11 per cent respectively) and also for other ethnic groups (12 per cent). The West Midlands had the next highest acceptances from Black and Asian groups (at 7 and 8 per cent respectively).

Acceptances by region per 1,000 households

Of all the regions, London had the highest incidence of acceptances per 1,000 households during the quarter, at 1.3, compared to 0.9 for England as a whole. The South East, at 0.5 per 1,000 households, had the lowest.

Link to Tables 2 and 3: Acceptances by ethnicity, and by region

Acceptances by priority need6 category

Between April and June, in 55 per cent of acceptances the presence of dependent children in the household was the primary reason for priority need, and a further 12 per cent of households had priority need because they included a pregnant woman. Since 1997 the percentage of acceptances who were households that included dependent children or an expectant mother has ranged between 60 and 70 per cent.

Link to table 4: Acceptances by priority need category

Acceptances by reason for loss of last settled home

Between April and June, in 37 per cent of acceptances the reason for homelessness was because parents, relatives or friends (mostly

parents) were no longer able, or willing, to accommodate them. This proportion has gradually risen since 1997, when it applied in around

27 per cent of acceptances. In a further 20 per cent of acceptances during the second quarter the reason for homelessness was the breakdown of a relationship with a partner, with around two-thirds of these cases involving violence. In an additional 14 per cent the reason for homelessness was the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy.

At 3 per cent, the proportion of acceptances where homelessness resulted from mortgage arrears was much lower than its peak level- 12 per cent during 1991.

Link to Table 5: Acceptances by reason for loss of last settled home

Action taken in respect of acceptances

Of the 19,430 acceptances between April and June, 51 per cent were placed in some form of temporary accommodation, for a period of time.

A further 33 per cent were recorded as 'homeless at home'7 while awaiting the provision of alternative accommodation and 11 per cent were provided with settled accommodation, by being granted a secure tenancy in local authority accommodation or an 'assured shorthold tenancy'. The remaining 5 per cent either made their own arrangements or had no further contact with the authority, thus bringing the homelessness duty to an end. Link to Table 8: Outcomes: Those accepted during the quarter & those leaving temporary accommodation or no longer recorded as homeless at home during the quarter

Households in temporary accommodation3

The number of households in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2006, arranged by local authorities under homelessness legislation was 93,910. This is some 2,460 (3 per cent) lower than at the end of the previous quarter, and some 7,060 (7 per cent) lower than at 30 June 2005. Of these 93,910 households, 13 per cent were being accommodated pending a decision on their application, or pending the outcome of an appeal to the county court on the authority's decision, or had been found intentionally homeless and in priority need and subsequently were being accommodated for such a period as would give them a reasonable opportunity to find accommodation for themselves.

85 per cent of households in temporary accommodation were in

self-contained4 accommodation (either in Local Authority/Registered Social Landlord stock or within the private sector) and 15 per cent were in accommodation with shared facilities (bed and breakfast; hostels and women's refuges).

Households with children in temporary accommodation

Of the 93,910 households in temporary accommodation on 30 June, 69,790 (74 per cent) included dependent children and/or a pregnant woman. Of these 69,790 households, 92 per cent were in self-contained accommodation. Only 1,050 (1.5 per cent) were in B&B accommodation and of these 102 had been resident for more than 6 weeks (half of these were being housed under local authorities' discretionary powers).

Link to Table 6: Temporary accommodation, by type: of which with children, including homeless at home

Households in temporary accommodation, by type of accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation used to provide temporary accommodation (TA) and most is self-contained (85 per cent). Use of accommodation with shared facilities has been declining in recent years, through reduced bed and breakfast usage, with a rise in the provision of self-contained accommodation. In this respect there has been a significant increase in the short-term leasing of accommodation by local authorities or housing associations from private sector landlords.

On 30 June 2006:

59,300 households were in private sector accommodation (63 per cent of all households), most commonly in a property leased by the local authority or registered social landlord (RSL, or housing association), or in some cases let directly to the applicant as the tenant of a private sector landlord. This is a decrease of 1 per cent compared with the end of March 2006, an increase of 3 per cent over June 2005 but an increase of 30,540 (106 per cent) over June 2001.

20,800 households were in accommodation owned by social landlords (22 per cent of all households), 7 per cent lower than at the end of March 2006, a decrease of 24 per cent over June 2005, and a decrease of 18 per cent over June 2001. Of these 20,800 households, 73 per cent were in local authority owned stock, and 27 per cent in RSL owned property. 8,930 households were in hostel accommodation and women's refuges (10 per cent of all households), 1 per cent lower than at the end of March 2006, a decrease of 10 per cent over June 2005, and 13 per cent lower than June 2001.

4,900 households were in bed and breakfast accommodation (5 per cent of all households), a decrease of 5 per cent since the end of March 2006, 22 per cent fewer than June 2005, and 57 per cent fewer than in June 2001. Use of B&B peaked in June 1987, when 47 per cent (England) and 59 per cent (London) of households in temporary accommodation were in bed and breakfast.

In addition to the 93,910 households in temporary accommodation, there were 10,210 households accepted as owed a main duty and recorded as 'Homeless at Home'7 on 30 June. This is 7 per cent lower than the equivalent figure for March 2006, 36 per cent lower than in June 2005, but 15 per cent higher than June 2001.

Households in temporary accommodation, by region

London had the highest number of households in temporary accommodation on 30 June, accounting for 66 per cent of the England total. The North East, with 1 per cent, had the least. After London, South East was the next highest, with 11 per cent of the England total. Most regions show a reduction in the number of households in temporary accommodation on 30 June 2006 compared to 31 March 2006; only the North West recorded a very slight increase.

England had a rate of 4.4 households in temporary accommodation per 1,000 households. Of the regions, London had the highest rate at 19.2 per 1,000. The South East had the next highest rate at 3.1 per 1,000 households. London, South East and East of England are the regions that experience the highest demand for housing. The North East had the lowest rate at 0.7 per 1,000 households.

Link to Table 7: Temporary accommodation: by region

Households leaving temporary accommodation or no longer recorded as Homeless at Home

Between April and June, the main homelessness duty was ended for 17,630 households who had previously been in temporary accommodation or recorded as homeless at home. 11,700 (66 per cent) of these households were provided with settled accommodation, by being granted a secure tenancy in local authority or RSL accommodation, although a further 6 per cent refused such an offer. An additional 5 per cent accepted an offer of accommodation in the private sector. 17 per cent of households voluntarily left the temporary accommodation arranged by the local authority. The remaining 6 per cent of households ceased to be eligible, or became intentionally homeless from the temporary accommodation provided for them.

Link to Table 8: Outcomes: Those accepted during the quarter & those leaving temporary accommodation or no longer recorded as homeless at home during the quarter

Length of time in arranged accommodation

Of the 17,630 households who left temporary accommodation or were no longer recorded as homeless at home during the quarter, 58 per cent had been in temporary accommodation or homeless at home for less than six months. 13 per cent had been in temporary accommodation or homeless at home for more than two years. Over recent years the percentage of households who spend 2 or more years in temporary accommodation or recorded as homeless at home has been increasing. In the second quarter of 2006, 37 per cent of households in London had previously spent 2 or more years in temporary accommodation or homeless at home, compared with 9 per cent in the same period in 2001. In the other regions where there is a higher demand for housing, there was also a bigger percentage increase in the number of households who had spent 2 or more years in temporary accommodation or homeless at home, than in the regions of low demand.

Link to Table 9: TA: by length of stay, by region

Notes

DEFINITION OF TERMS

1. Acceptances: households found to be eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falling within a priority need group, during the quarter (as defined by homelessness legislation (see paragraphs 8-10 below)), and consequently owed a main homelessness duty by a local housing authority.

2. Seasonal adjustment: the seasonally adjusted estimates have been produced using the X11-Arima model, in accordance with National Statistics practices, which have then been constrained so that they are consistent with the unadjusted financial year totals. The number of decisions and acceptances tends to be lower in the second quarter than in the first and third quarters, and will also be affected by seasonal holiday periods, especially Christmas and the New Year.

3. Temporary accommodation: households in temporary accommodation (excluding applicants who are recorded as 'homeless at home') on the last day of the quarter, as arranged by a local housing authority as a discharge of their statutory homelessness functions. In most cases, the authority is discharging the main homelessness duty to secure suitable accommodation until a settled home becomes available for the applicant and his/her household. However, the numbers also include households provided with accommodation pending a decision on their homelessness application, households pending a review or appeal to the county court of the decision on their case, and households found to be intentionally homeless and in priority need who were being accommodated for such period as would give them a reasonable opportunity to find accommodation for themselves.

4. Self-contained accommodation: this includes all temporary accommodation where the household has sole use of kitchen and bathroom facilities, including property held by local housing authorities, registered social landlords and private sector landlords. A distinction is made between this type of accommodation and accommodation where such facilities are shared with other households (i.e. bed and breakfast, hostels and women's' refuges).

5. Decisions: these include only the decisions made by local housing authorities where the applicant has been found to be eligible for assistance and therefore excludes any households found to be ineligible. (Some persons from abroad are ineligible for assistance).

6. Priority need groups: include households with dependent children or a pregnant woman and people who are vulnerable in some way e.g.

because of mental illness or physical disability. The priority need categories were extended by Order in July 2002 to include,

additionally: applicants aged 16 or 17; applicants aged 18 to 20 who were previously in care; applicants vulnerable as a result of time spent in care, in custody, or in HM Forces, and applicants vulnerable as a result of having to flee their home because of violence or the threat of violence. It is not possible to establish precisely how much of the changed profile of acceptances is attributable to the Order. Previously, some local authorities would have accepted applicants who fall within the new categories as having a priority need because of 'an other special reason'. This applies in particular to applicants such as vulnerable young people, and people fleeing domestic violence. In the second quarter of 2006 the new priority need categories accounted for 11 per cent of homeless acceptances, the same as in the second quarter of 2005.

7. Homeless at home: These are applicants who have been accepted as being owed a main homelessness duty and for whom arrangements have been made for them to remain in their existing accommodation for the immediate future. Prior to 2005Q2, figures were also collected on those potentially 'homeless at home' but whose application was still under consideration pending a decision. Both series are now presented in the final columns of Table 6.

LEGISLATION

8. Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 places statutory duties on local housing authorities to provide assistance to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Authorities must consider all applications from people seeking accommodation or assistance in obtaining accommodation. A main homelessness duty (see below) is owed where the authority is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falls within a priority need group. The priority need groups are specified in the legislation, although paragraph 6 above provides a summary.

9. Where a main duty is owed, the authority must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for the applicant and his or her household until a settled home becomes available for them. Where households are found to be intentionally homeless or not in priority need, the authority must make an assessment of their housing needs, provide advice and assistance to help them find accommodation for themselves.

Where the applicant is found to be intentionally homeless but falls in a priority need category the authority must also ensure that accommodation is available for long enough to give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to find a home.

10. Part 7 of the 1996 Act replaced Part 3 of the Housing Act 1985, which continues to apply in respect of those cases where an application was made before 20 January 1997 and a duty is still owed.

A proportion of the homelessness cases for which decisions were made during 1997 are cases to which Part 3 of the Housing Act 1985 applies. The 1996 Act was amended by Order and by the Homelessness Act 2002. The Order and the main homelessness provisions of the 2002 Act came into force on 31 July 2002.

SOURCE OF STATISTICS

11. The figures in this Statistical Release are based on quarterly returns completed by local authorities in England and estimates for non-respondent authorities. The latest quarter's figures are based on full or partial returns from 346 of 354 local authorities (98 per cent response). All London Boroughs provided a full or partial return. Statutory homelessness statistics are usually published on the first Monday following 51 working days after the end of the quarter. During this time all returns undergo thorough validation and cross-checking, and late returns are pursued to ensure overall response is as complete and accurate as possible, with a minimum target of 90 per cent. This process typically takes around six weeks, after which estimates for missing data are calculated.

12. This Statistical Release, as well as previous Releases, can be accessed and all text, tables and charts downloaded electronically, from the DCLG website at:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1156302 13. Further details are available from Alex Arulanandam, DCLG, Zone 3/H9, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU. Telephone 020 7944 3316.

E-mail: homelessnessstats@communities.gov.uk

14. National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs.

15. The publication date for the 3rd Quarter (July - September) 2006 Statutory Homelessness Statistical Release is Monday 11 December 2006.

16. DCLG produces regular Policy Briefings on homelessness, which can be accessed from the website at:

http:www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1162509

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