320,000 people in Britain are now homeless, as numbers keep rising

Posted 22 Nov 2018

Shelter launches urgent appeal after new report reveals homelessness crisis deepens in Britain.

Brand new analysis from Shelter reveals that 320,000 people are recorded as homeless, as numbers rise again. This figure lays bare the true scale of Britain’s worsening housing crisis, despite repeated government pledges to tackle the problem.

In the last year, the overall number increased by 13,000 people. This means one in every 200 people in Britain are homeless and sleeping on the streets or stuck in temporary accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs.

In its annual landmark review, the housing charity combined official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures. As these records are not definitive, the true extent of homelessness is likely even greater.

Shelter has launched an urgent appeal calling on the public to support its frontline advisers as they work to help the growing number of people trying to find or keep their home.

London reported the highest levels of homelessness, with almost 170,000 people or one in 52 without a place to call home. Plenty of areas outside the capital are feeling the impact of the housing crisis too, including Brighton (1 in 67), Birmingham (1 in 73) and Manchester (1 in 135).

Shelter’s report ‘Homelessness in Great Britain: the numbers behind the story’ warns this is due to a combination unaffordable rents, frozen housing benefits and a severe shortage of social housing.

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter said: “It’s unforgivable that 320,000 people in Britain have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home. These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.

"Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room. We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.

"Shelter’s services have never been more needed. That’s why we’re asking the public to support us this winter so that we can answer as many calls as possible and have trained advisers on hand when people need them most.'

Case study: Telli Afrik, in his 30s, lives in a hostel in Waltham Forest with his wife and two children, aged 3 and 5. The family became homeless because they could no longer afford their privately rented home – despite working. This is the family’s 6th hostel.

"At first, we were fortunate because we went to live with my aunt. But not long after we moved in, she died of a heart attack and the council took the house back. We were made homeless instantly. I sobbed that night, all of us were in tears.

"Our current hostel is so cramped and everyone’s competing for space. My family all sleep in one room and we eat our meals on the floor because we don’t have a table. There are two bathrooms but one isn’t in good shape. It’s hard to bathe. It’s just very tough.

"I had a new job as a supermarket manager, but they terminated my contract because I was always at appointments with different housing teams. That was a direct result of our homelessness. Financially we’ve been brought to nothing. My confidence – nothing. My family is at breaking point."

To support Shelter’s urgent appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70020 to donate £3.

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Photo credit: Steve Franck for Shelter

Photo caption: Telli Afrik and family

Notes to editors:

Estimated numbers of people that are recorded as homeless are calculated using four sources (two for local level data). These are:

[1] DCLG Homelessness statistics Q1 2018, Households that are homeless, owed a legal duty and living in TA, or homeless at home, split into people (adults and children)

[2], DCLG Homelessness statistics: Rough Sleeping, Autumn 2017 (latest available)

[3] Single bed spaces in hostels, Homeless Link, 2017. 10% has been taken off the totals to account for voids and the number of single people in TA from the statutory figures are subtracted by region to ensure no double-counting.

[4] Results of an FOI by Shelter requesting the number of families owed a housing duty by Social Services and housed in TA by them. Less than 50% of areas responded, so this is a very conservative figure.

People figure for [4] calculated by applying average family size from [1].

Rates per person are calculated using ONS mid-year population estimates for 2017.

Note: The sum of the regional figures will not equal the national figures due to imputations, estimates and roundings. All figures are estimates using conservative assumptions.

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Total people recorded as homeless as at Q1 2018: Regional and national results

No. of people living in TA [1]No. of people rough sleeping [2]No. of people in single homeless hostel [3]No. of people in social services TA [4]Total homeless peopleTotal people [5]Rate (1 in x)Change in number (total homeless people)Change %
South East24,6151,1192,7341,12229,5919.1m3071,0874%
South West7,5305802,5083510,6535.6m522-960-8%
East17,1666152,06429020,1356.2m306-780-4%
East Mids5,0053131,880877,2854.8m6554436%
West Mids21,0762952,3864223,8005.9m2462,55612%
Yorks & Hum3,0152072,3321105,6645.5m96261812%
North East920511,292102,2732.6m1,163-211-8%
North West7,4954342,47126410,6657.3m6811,01911%
London164,2201,13702,496167,8538.8m533,4882%
England252,8504,75114,8674,457276,92555.6m2018,5953%
Great Britain294,9525,09614,8674,922319,83764.2m20112,6054%

Sources: [1] Calculated from DCLG Homelessness statistics Q1 2018, Households that are homeless, owed a legal duty and living in TA, or homeless at home, split into people (adults and children) [2], DCLG Homelessness statistics: Rough Sleeping, Autumn 2017 (latest available) [3] Single bed spaces in hostels, Homeless Link, 2017. 10% has been taken off the totals to account for voids and the number of single people in TA from the statutory figures are subtracted by region to ensure no double-counting. [4] Results of an FOI by Shelter requesting the number of families owed a duty by Social Services and housed in TA. Less than 50% of areas responded, so this is a very conservative figure. People figure calculated by applying average family size from [1], [5] ONS mid-year population estimates for 2017. Note: The sum of the regional figures will not equal the national figures due to imputations, estimates and roundings.

Rates of recorded homelessness in England by local authority: top 50 by rank

Local AuthorityRegionHomeless in Temporary AccRough SleepingTotal people homelessPopulationRate (1 in x)National Rank
NewhamL14,5357614,611347,996241
HaringeyL9,173439,216271,224292
Kensington and ChelseaL5,263205,283155,741293
WestminsterL7,9042178,121244,796304
Barking and DagenhamL6,53106,531210,711325
HackneyL8,298188,316275,929336
EnfieldL9,98699,995332,705337
Waltham ForestL7,484447,528275,505378
BrentL8,506298,535329,102399
Tower HamletsL7,575217,596307,9644110
RedbridgeL7,049657,114301,7854211
LewishamL6,695226,717301,3074512
Hammersmith and FulhamL3,81153,816182,9984813
LutonEE4,321874,408214,6584914
EalingL6,904626,966342,7364915
LambethL5,879345,913324,0485516
BarnetL6,548216,569387,8035917
WandsworthL5,237135,250323,2576218
Brighton and HoveSE4,1391784,317288,1556719
CroydonL5,731315,762384,8376720
BexleyL3,451163,467246,1247121
BirminghamWM15,4815715,5381,137,1237322
BromleyL4,43954,444329,3917423
BroxbourneEE1,16021,16296,7628324
Kingston upon ThamesL2,021272,048174,6098525
HarrowL2,434102,444248,88010226
City of LondonL3836747,65410427
SloughSE1,395271,422148,76810528
HaveringL2,424222,446256,03910529
HounslowL2,491222,513269,10010730
HarlowEE7502477486,19111131
Milton KeynesSE2,244482,292267,52111732
IslingtonL1,864271,891235,00012433
ManchesterNW3,948944,042545,50113534
SuttonL1,46031,463203,24313935
GreenwichL1,99582,003282,84914136
DartfordSE6769685107,51615737
BasildonEE1,116241,140184,47916238
WatfordEE582658896,67516439
New ForestSE1,07471,081179,59016640
Epsom and EwellSE460346379,45117241
PeterboroughEE1,122311,153198,91417342
CoventryWM2,06982,077360,14917343
HillingdonL1,689361,725302,34317544
CamdenL1,1911271,318253,36119245
Castle PointEE453045389,81419846
WellingboroughEM3821239478,91420047
Bristol, City ofSW2,201862,287459,25220148
ReadingSE74031771163,07521249
AshfordSE58811599127,52721350