Where can homeless people go if they are turned away?

Response to latest Government figures on statutory homelessness.

The latest Government figures on statutory homelessness in England (published today) show that the number of people applying to councils for help for housing has continued to increase. The figures also show that a worrying number of homeless people continue to be turned away.

According to analysis by Homeless Link, the umbrella body for 500 homeless charities:

  • The total number of applications has grown for the fifth consecutive quarter - from 21,410 applications in the first quarter of 2010 to 26,400 applications in first quarter of 2011
  • Some areas have witnessed considerable jumps in applications of over 50%
  • The percentage of applications that councils choose to accept continues to decline - the acceptance rate stood at 43% in the first quarter of 2011, the lowest acceptance rate since 1999
  • The proportion of households found to be homeless but "not in priority need" continues to increase from 15% in 2008 - to 21% in the first quarter of 2011
  • The number of households in temporary accommodation continues to fall.

Commenting on the statistics, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Jenny Edwards said:

"The recession is bound to lead to more people not having a home and local authorities in some areas are coping with increased demand. However, we need to ask what happens to homeless people when councils turn them away.

"When people experience financial problems, they need effective help not a closed door, even if they are not defined as being a ‘priority’.  We need to prevent people from facing the alternative of illegal lets, staying with friends or squats. We know these are often the last stop before the streets.

"At a time when funding for front-line homelessness services has been cut in many areas and some services are closing, we need a clearer duty for councils to offer effective advice and information to help people who are homeless but not offered accommodation.

"The fall in the number of people in temporary accommodation is welcomed but we need to invest in preventing homelessness in the first place. This makes sense for individuals without a home and society as a whole."

The statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government are available from www.communities.gov.uk.