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STATUTORY HOMELESSNESS FIGURES: ENGLAND SECOND QUARTER 2001

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This release provides information on local authorities' activities under the homelessness provisions of the 1996 Ho...
This release provides information on local authorities' activities under the homelessness provisions of the 1996 Housing Act and a diminishing number of cases under the 1985 Act. Tables 1 to 6 and Charts A and B relate to England; other tables and charts to London.

Decisions taken under the homelessness legislation (Table 1)

In the quarter ending June 2001 local authorities made a total of 64,150 decisions on applications for housing from households eligible under the homelessness provisions of the 1996 Housing Act. This is 860 (1 per cent) lower than in the first quarter of 2001 (65,010). It is usual for the number of decisions taken to decrease between the first and second quarters of the same year. The decrease this year was smaller than in recent years, when the change has typically been between 3 and 6 per cent.

Homeless acceptances (Chart A and Tables 2 & 7)

In the June quarter of 2001, local authorities accepted some 29,110 households as meeting the statutory criteria of being eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falling within a priority need group. This is a decrease of 1,310 (4 per cent) on the previous quarter (30,420), but is 1,780 (7 per cent) higher than the number in the corresponding quarter last year.

As with decisions taken, it is usual for the number of acceptances taken to decrease between the first and second quarters. At 4 per cent, the decrease in the second quarter of 2001 is greater than the corresponding decrease in 2000 (1 per cent) and about the same as in 1999. In most regions there were decreases or no significant changes, the exception being the North East with an increase of 7%.

Acceptances by category of priority need (Table 3)

Almost three in five of the households (58 per cent) accepted during the June quarter of 2001 contained dependent children, and a further 10 per cent included a pregnant woman. There has been little change in these percentages over the past three years.

Reasons for homelessness (Table 4)

In the June 2001 quarter 32 per cent of acceptances arose because parents, relatives or friends (mostly parents) were no longer able, or willing, to accommodate them. This proportion has been typically around 28 per cent since the introduction of the 1996 Act.

A further 22 per cent of acceptances in the June 2001 quarter were because of the breakdown of a relationship with a partner, consistent with the declining trend since a peak of 25 per cent in 1997, and compares with around 20 per cent six years ago. Over two-thirds of the cases of relationship breakdown involved violence, a proportion which has also been declining slightly in recent years. Over the past six years, the number of households losing accommodation through the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy has increased from around 10 per cent to 16 per cent currently.

At 3 per cent the proportion of acceptances resulting from mortgage arrears was much less than its peak level - 12 per cent during 1991 - and has beensteadily declining since then. Mortgage arrears cases have accounted for less than 1,000 acceptances in each of the last five quarters.

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

The number of households in accommodation arranged by local authorities under the homelessness provisions of the Housing Acts 1985 and 1996 at the end of June 2001 was 75,320, just 200 more than at the end of the previous quarter. In recent years, numbers accommodated at the end of June have been typically 2-5 per cent higher than at the end of March.

The total number of households in bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of June was 11,340. This represents an increase of 510 households (5 per cent) over the previous quarter, more than half of which arose in London. The number of households in B&B accommodation is 2,270 (25 per cent) higher than the corresponding figure in June 2000.

15 per cent of households (18 per cent in London) accommodated at the end of June 2001 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.

The number of homeless households in hostel accommodation (including women's refuges) at the end of June 2001 was 10,360, a decrease of 120 (1 per cent) over the previous quarter, but 460 (5 per cent) higher than a year previously.

At the end of June 2001 some 12,040 households which had been accepted as homeless under the Acts were 'homeless at home' while awaiting the provision of accommodation (Table 5). This is 5 per cent more than at the end of the previous quarter.

Notes

* see herefor tables and charts

Legislation

1. Part VII 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 eg because of mental illness or physical disability. Where a main duty is owed, the authority must either provide sufficient assistance to enable the household to obtain suitable private accommodation in the district (which must be available for two years) or, if this is not available, it must secure suitable accommodation for the household for at least two years. In either case, the household is entitled to be placed on the housing register and given reasonable preference in the allocation of a long-term social tenancy. Where households are found to be intentionally homeless or not in a priority need group, the authority should provide advice and assistance to help them find their own accommodation.

3. Part VII of the 1996 Act replaced Part III of the Housing Act 1985, which continues to apply in respect of homelessness applications made before 20 January 1997.

Source of statistics

4. 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 317 out of 354 local authorities (90 per cent response), compared with 294 returns (83 per cent response) in the second quarter of 1998.

5. For four London boroughs which were unable to provide figures for households in temporary accommodation we have based our estimates on information supplied by the Greater London Authority as part of their monthly monitoring statistics.

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