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Need to know: 10 years on

September 09 2015
Stuart at a soup run. © Eddie Ngugi for <i>the Pavement</i> Stuart at a soup run. © Eddie Ngugi for <i>the Pavement</i>
So what has changed in the last decade - there's good news... and bad.

What’s changed in a decade?

For many people, not a lot. In London, nearly 700 households have been stuck in temporary accommodation for more than a decade, and a further 3,700 for at least five years (according to figures Inside Housing obtained from 15 councils).

Across the UK, the picture looks less bleak. In 2005, Shelter reported more than 100,000 households were living in temporary accommodation. While the most recent data, released this June, puts the figure at 65,000 – a drop of over a third. However, this is a 32 per cent rise on the 49,000 reported in September 2011.

The situation for homeless 18–25-year-olds is particularly worrying. In 2005, there were an estimated 15,360 young homeless people in England. Now it’s 26,852, and one study by Cambridge University suggests that the real figure is triple the official estimate.

What about rough sleeping?

Since the Pavement first went to print in 2005, figures for rough sleeping have risen, particularly in London, where in 2005–2006, 2,816 people were seen sleeping rough (source: CHAIN). This led Boris Johnson to announce in 2008, when he became Mayor of London, that “by the end of 2012 no one will live on the streets of London, and no individual arriving on the streets will sleep out for a second night.” Did he succeed? Well, CHAIN figures for 2014–2015 put the number of people seen sleeping rough at 7,581. So, no. In Scotland the official figures look more positive with 438 homeless applicants sleeping rough the night before in Edinburgh and 445 in Glasgow. However several charities believe the true figures are far higher.

Any good news?

Since the Pavement launched, homelessness as a whole has dropped in England and Scotland – or at least the number of people accepted as homeless by their local authority. According to Shelter, 93,900 households were accepted as homeless in 2005–2006. This dropped to just 40,000 in 2009–2010, before rising slightly in last year’s figures (the most recently released data) to 52,270. One reason for this recent increase may be the rise in evictions. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that last year, county court bailiffs repossessed a total of 41,195 properties on behalf of landlords, leading to an estimated 90,000 people being evicted. Just over 25,000 properties were repossessed in 2005.