One in three has experienced homelessness or knows someone who has

Tuesday, 15 October 2013 - 5:12pm

The findings of a new survey by umbrella body Homeless Link reveal that one in three (32%) people in Britain have experienced homelessness or know someone who has. 

With the number of homeless households up 33% since 2010 , eight out of ten people polled believe that councils should be doing more to help people.  

Yet despite rising homeless numbers, research indicates that the help available for people is shrinking.  

Since 2010, 133 homeless projects have closed, over 4,000 bed spaces have been lost  and the number of full-time staff in the sector has fallen by 16%. While nearly half (47%) of homeless services last year reported a fall in investment – by an average of 17%

According to the umbrella body for homeless charities, intelligence suggests investment in services could fall even further. Councils in the last six months have commonly reported cuts of between 25-40% to housing-related support budgets. 

Not having a home causes mental and physical harm to individuals and is costly to society. According to Homeless Link data, of those experiencing homelessness, 72% have mental health issues , 56% long term physical health needs and only 6% are in employment .

Homeless services help over 40,000 adults each year, yet many charities report that budget cuts are impacting on their ability to support clients into homes and employment. 

In 2012, more than half of services whose funding had been cut believed it resulted in increased rough sleeping (65%) and anti-social behaviour (56%) . 

With 76% of people agreeing that tackling homelessness is beneficial to their community, Homeless Link has launched Pay it Forward, a campaign calling on councillors to back continued investment in homeless prevention and support in 2014. 

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said: 

“These figures highlight how common the experience of being without a home really is and the impact homelessness has on individuals and communities. Homelessness services play a vital role in helping people rebuild their lives, but can only do so if they continue to receive sustainable long-term funding. 

“Whilst we understand the pressure councils are under, we also know that investment in tackling homelessness is in everyone’s interest and is backed by the public. Homeless Link is calling for all councils to commit to supporting the innovative projects throughout the country that change lives and benefit society every day.”

Martin Houghton-Brown, Chief Executive of Depaul UK, said: 

"We welcome Homeless Link's call for local authorities to continue investing in and funding homelessness services.

"At Depaul UK we are working with young people who, in the majority of cases, have become homeless because of family breakdown so prevention work is critical.   Creating opportunities to resolve relationship difficulties whilst keeping young people safe is not only incredibly obvious, it also works.

"Family mediation prevents homelessness, reconnects young people to their families and is fundamentally an economically sound solution. For the sake of vulnerable young people I am delighted that increasing numbers of local authorities are asking us to build mediation in as an intrinsic part of our pathways of services for young people.  We encourage all local authorities to recognise and invest in this, and other, crucial homelessness services."


Pay it Forward report

Homelessness is on the rise but investment in services to prevent the issue and support individuals is falling. The Pay it Forward project aims to demonstrate the value of investing in homelessness services for individuals and society. 


Homeless services help over 40,000 adults each year, yet many charities report that budget cuts are impacting on their ability to support clients into homes and employment. 

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Stephen Holland

Stephen served as our Communications Officer until January 2016.