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STATUTORY HOMELESSNESS: ENGLAND THIRD QUARTER 2002

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This Release provides information on local authorities' activities...
This Release provides information on local authorities' activities

under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended

by the Homelessness Act 2002) and a small number of residual cases

under the Housing Act 1985. Tables 1 to 6 and Charts A and B relate

to England; and other tables and charts to London.

Households accommodated (Charts B & C and Tables 5, 6 & 8)

The number of households in accommodation arranged by local

authorities under homelessness legislation at the end of September

2002 was 84,800, some 3,630 (4 per cent) higher than at the end of

the previous quarter and 6,860 (9 per cent) more than recorded at the

end of September 2001.

The total number of households in bed and breakfast or Annexe-style

accommodation with shared facilities at the end of September was

13,300, a rise of 880 households (7 per cent) over June 2002. This

also represents a nominal rise of 1,010 (8 per cent) over the figure

for September 2001, but needs to be considered in the context of more

precise information now being reported by local authorities,

identifying and correcting an element of previous mis-reporting (see

Notes). We estimate that uncorrected figures on the same

basis as those reported last year would have shown 14,460 households

in Bed and Breakfast at the end of September 2002, an increase of

2,170 (18 per cent) over September 2001.

16 per cent of households (17 per cent in London) accommodated at the

end of September 2002 were in bed and breakfast. These proportions

compare with peaks of 47 per cent (England) and 59 per cent (London)

in the quarter ending June 1987.

Figures for families with children in B&B have been collected this

year for the first time. Despite the general rise of total households

in B&B, the number of families with children in such accommodation

has remained unchanged, at 6,700, for the third successive quarter.

Around 70 per cent of these are in London, and just over 20 per cent

in the South East and South West regions combined.

The number of homeless households in hostel accommodation (including

women's refuges) at the end of September was 9,740, an increase of

150 (2 per cent) since the end of the previous quarter, but a fall of

680 (7 per cent) compared with one year ago. Hostel accommodation has

traditionally been regarded as involving the sharing of some or all

amenities; the apparent decline in numbers compared with last year is

largely attributable to authorities re-classifying any self-contained

units more appropriately, as either 'local authorities own stock' or

'private sector accommodation'.

At the end of September 2002 some 14,910 households which had been

accepted as homeless under the Acts were 'homeless at home' (see

Notes) while awaiting the provision of accommodation

(Table 5). This is an increase of 2,140 (17 per cent) over the June

figure, and 3,880 (35 per cent) more than September 2001.

Homeless acceptances (Chart A and Tables 2 & 7)

In the September quarter of 2002, local authorities accepted some

33,640 households as meeting the statutory criteria of being eligible

for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falling within a

priority need group. This is an increase of some 3,080 (10 per cent)

on the previous quarter, and is 2,730 (9 per cent) higher than in the

corresponding quarter last year.

The number of acceptances usually increases between the second and

third quarters. However, at 10 per cent the increase in the third

quarter of 2002 is slightly higher than the increases of between 6 -

8 per cent recorded in the corresponding quarters since 1997.

Significant increases were recorded in Yorkshire & The Humber (35 per

cent), East of England (18 per cent) and North West (14 per cent)

regions. The only region with a fall in acceptances was East

Midlands, at 5 per cent.

Ethnicity

In the third quarter 70% of acceptances were from households

classified as White, 10% from African/Caribbean households, 6% from

Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi households, 8% from other ethnic origin

households and the remaining 6% from households where the ethnic

origin was not known. This breakdown is virtually unchanged from the

previous quarter.

Key summary data at local authority level on decisions, acceptances

and households accommodated is published in an extended Supplementary

Table which this quarter includes an analysis of acceptances by main

ethnic groups. This builds on the regional ethnicity data previously

published alongside the homelessness statistics for the quarter

ending 30 June 2002. It is intended to incorporate a new table on

ethnicity in the main Statistical Release once a reliable time-series

is established.

Acceptances by category of priority need (Table 3)

For over half (54 per cent) of the cases accepted during the

September quarter of 2002, the presence of dependent children in the

household was the primary reason for acceptance, and a further 10 per

cent of households included a pregnant woman. There has been little

change in the percentages of these and other main categories of

priority need over the past three years.

The additional categories of priority need introduced by Order under

the Housing Act 1996 came into effect during this quarter (see Notes).

It is not possible to establish precisely how much of

the recorded increase in accepted cases is attributable to the Order.

In the past some local authorities would have accepted these groups

of applicants (especially vulnerable young people, and people fleeing

domestic violence) and recorded them against the 'vulnerable for a

special reason' category. Increases have occurred across all of the

existing priority need categories, against a background of rising

levels of acceptances in recent years and a usual increase between

the second and third quarters of each year.

Reasons for homelessness (Table 4)

In the September 2002 quarter 35 per cent of acceptances arose

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 represented around 27 per cent of

acceptances.

A further 23 per cent of acceptances in the September 2002 quarter

were because of the breakdown of a relationship with a partner;

two-thirds of the cases of relationship breakdown involved violence.

Both of these figures have varied little in recent years. Over the

last seven years, the number of households losing accommodation

through the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy has increased from

around 10 per cent to around 15 per cent.

At 2 per cent, the proportion of acceptances resulting from mortgage

arrears was much less than its peak level - 12 per cent during 1991 -

and has been at or below 5 per cent since late 1998. Mortgage arrears

cases have accounted for less than 1,000 acceptances in each of the

last nine quarters.

Decisions taken under the homelessness legislation (Table 1)

In the quarter ending September 2002 local authorities made a total

of 71,430 decisions on applications for housing from households

eligible under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Act 1996

(as amended by the Priority Need Order and by the Homelessness Act

2002). This is 5,350 (8 per cent) more than in the second quarter of

2002. As with acceptances it is usual for the number of decisions

taken to increase between the second and third quarters of the same

year. The increase this year (8 per cent) is slightly above those in

the corresponding quarters since 1997, which have typically been 6 or

7 per cent.

NOTES

Legislation

1. Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996, which came into force on 20

January 1997, 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 is owed where the authority is satisfied that

the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless

and falls within a priority need group.

2. The 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. An Order

made under the 1996 Act extended the priority need categories 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 the armed forces, and

applicants vulnerable as a result of having to flee their home because

of violence or the threat of violence.

3. 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 and provide

advice and assistance to help them find accommodation for themselves.

4. 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 effect on 31 July 2002.

Source of statistics

5. 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

returns from 322 out of 354 local authorities (91 per cent response).

We consistently publish homelessness results 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 nine

weeks or more, after which estimates for missing data are calculated.

6. For four London boroughs which were unable to provide figures on

numbers in temporary accommodation we have based our estimates on

information supplied by the Greater London Authority as part of their

monthly monitoring statistics.

Monitoring of Bed and Breakfast accommodation

7. By the end of 2001 the accurate recording of B&B usage in London

had become inflated because of the inclusion by some boroughs of

Annexe-style units which often consist of self-contained units,

similar to more mainstream private lettings. With effect from the

March quarter 2002, the categories of temporary accommodation

recorded on the department's quarterly housing activity return were

extended to allow a more detailed picture of those households in the

least acceptable form of housing i.e. 'B&B hotels', and Annexe-style

units where some basic facilities are shared. Both of these types are

shown as 'Bed and Breakfast hotels' in Table 6. Self-contained

Annexes, which some authorities in the past had erroneously

attributed to B&B, have now been separately identified and included

within the 'Private sector landlord' accommodation category. We

estimate the net effect of this correction at approximately 1,160

households in September, 1,070 households in June, and 1,000 in

March.

8. Additional information on the households' average length of stay

in specific types of shared-facility accommodation, including B&B,

has also been sought on quarterly P1E returns since March. The

initial level and quality of these new data was not sufficiently

reliable, but from improved responses in June and September it has

been possible to produce broad estimates of the numbers of households

with dependent children in B&B accommodation at regional level.

9. This Statistical Release can be accessed, and all text and tables

downloaded electronically here.

10. The next publication date for Statutory Homelessness Statistical

Release: Thursday 13 March 2003.

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