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Added 29 August 2022

The Annual Review of Support for Single Homeless People in England is an independent yearly assessment of the demographics, needs, and availability of services for single people accessing homelessness services in England.

Despite some changes to the availability of support for single people experiencing homelessness since the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA)’s introduction in 2018, these individuals are still less likely to be entitled to housing support by their local authority. As a result, they are often completely reliant on the charitable sector for accommodation, advice, and other vital forms of support.

2021 marks Homeless Link’s 14th annual review,1 providing key evidence of the support provided by these services. It is the only available resource of its kind in England’s homelessness sector and draws on four key data sources:

  1. Representative telephone and online surveys of 335 accommodation providers
  2. Representative telephone and online surveys of 59 day centres
  3. Homeless England database figures on projects and bed space availability
  4. Existing data on homelessness trends, including national statutory homelessness and rough sleeping figures

The research is carried out by Homeless Link’s Research Team, with survey dissemination overseen by Social Engine.

Homelessness trends

  • During the 2020-21 financial year, homelessness in England surpassed pre-pandemic levels, with 270,710 households deemed to be at risk of or experiencing homelessness by their local authority.
  • While this is a 6.9% decrease from the previous year, it is a slight increase (0.4%) from 2018-2019.
  • This includes 194,670 single households, up 1.3% from the previous year and 30.1% from 2018-2019.
  • The 2021 snapshot estimated that 2,440 people were sleeping rough on a single night, a decrease of 9.3% from last year but an increase of 37.9% since 2010.

Availability of homelessness services

While there is evidence that homelessness may be increasing across England, our review shows that levels of homelessness provision for single households is continuing to decline. This includes:

  • The number of accommodation providers for single people experiencing homelessness has dropped every year since 2010, down 1.9% from last year, to 893. This is a 38.9% decrease from 2010.
  • The number of day centres is down 1.7% from last year to 173, a 7.5% decrease from 2010.
  • The number of bed spaces has decreased by 0.4% from last year to 32,184, a decline of 26.3% from 2010.At the same time, funding has been relatively stagnant, with 59.6% of accommodation providers and 51.0% of day centres saying their funding was the same as the previous year. A further 19.2% of accommodation providers and 22.5% of day centres said their funding had declined.

Single people experiencing homelessness

While service capacity has declined, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be pushing more people into homelessness. Worryingly, when asked about changes to homelessness amongst different groups over the past year, in every case respondents were more likely to indicate there had been an increase in those experiencing homelessness than to say there had been a decrease. This includes:

  • 42.9% of accommodation providers supported more people experiencing homelessness for the first time;
  • 30.7% saw more people currently in low paid jobs (including zero hour contracts); and
  • 29.5% saw more people who had recently lost their job.

Services for single households

Despite a reduction in projects, providers continue to offer a wide range of services to meet the needs of a hugely diverse population, while facing a range of barriers to external support services.

  • Mental health services were reported to be the hardest to access, with 90.0% of services stating their clients encountered barriers – primarily waiting lists.A lack of move-on options also appears to be leaving people trapped in homelessness accommodation longer than they need to be, with 42.9% of providers stating that over 50% of their residents were waiting over six months to move on.
  • A lack of social housing – the most commonly reported move on outcome – was also cited as the main barrier to moving clients on.