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Homelessness rise linked to cuts

November 03 2012
Data company SSentif‘s highlights local differences

The 25 per cent rise in homelessness over the past three years has coincided with cuts in funding to services, according to data company SSentif.

Figures published by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that there are now more than 50,000 people classified as priority homeless – a quarter more than in 2009–10.

The east of England bore the brunt, with the highest increase in homelessness in the period. The only area to show a decrease was the North East, with a 10 per cent reduction.

SSentif has collated figures from local authorities showing this happened while funding to homeless services was reduced. Across England, spending on homelessness fell from £213.7m to £199.8m between 2009/10 and 2010/11.

In Birmingham, for example, homelessness increased in line with the national average, while spend dropped by 29 per cent from £7.8m to £5.5m.

SSentif managing director Judy Aldred said cuts to spending had played a major role in the increase in rough sleeping. "While these [homelessness] figures are perhaps not surprising given the state of the economy, some of the results for specific councils are quite shocking,” she said. “By analysing the data at council level, we were able to highlight areas that are showing much greater increases than the national average.”

Aldred singled out Broxbourne Council in Hertfordshire as the worst offender, recording a rise in the number of people registered priority homeless 1 to 118, a stark 300 per cent increase. When contacted about the rise, they were unable to comment. Maidstone in Kent saw the second highest increase, from 7 to 189.

However, it was cities like Birmingham and Sheffield which were dealing with cases of priority homeless in the thousands, with 3,929 priority homeless in Birmingham and 1,383 in Sheffield.