Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Young failed by councils

November 01 2015
Youth homelessmess eight times higher than government statistics

Eight times more young people find themselves homeless than the UK government admits in its official stats, according to a new report on youth homelessness.

The shocking report, released by Centrepoint in September, found that at least 30,000 young homeless people are turned away from statutory services in England and Wales annually without any help.

Based on information from Freedom of Information requests to councils across the UK, the study showed that every year more than 150,000 16–24-year-olds ask for help because they are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The youth homeless charity says this clearly demonstrates that councils are unable to cope and that policy makers are under-estimating the problem, leading them to “make policy in the dark”.

Gaia Marcus, Centrepoint Youth Homelessness Databank Manager, said: “The most alarming aspect to these findings is that it is very likely they are a significant underestimate – many of the local authorities where youth homelessness is most prevalent did not respond to our Freedom of Information requests.

“No young person should be abandoned to dangerous situations at home or on the street.

“Unfortunately, too many young people are being failed at the first opportunity because of a lack of resources sorely needed on the ground.”

Marcus blamed insufficient funding from central government for the lack of services provided by local authorities, which she claimed left “their hands tied” and put the futures of young people at risk.

Keith, a young person being supported by the charity, was forced to leave home aged 22 when his father could not accept he was gay. After repeatedly approaching his local council for help he was told he was not in priority need of housing.

Luckily he got help from Centrepoint.Keith said: “I was vulnerable. I didn’t make myself homeless – I was pushed out of my home because of who I was. Given a chance, I would have explained, but I didn’t get the opportunity, because you’re right there at the counter and there’s someone waiting next to you.”

In a statement, a government spokesman dismissed the report’s findings, as “misleading and based on anecdotal evidence.” However, other charities backed the findings and said the lack of support for young people was apparent in their own services.