More than 300,000 people in Britain homeless today

Posted 08 Nov 2017

In the most extensive review of its kind, the housing charity combined official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures. This showed the number of homeless people in Britain has increased by 13,000 in a year. However, as government records are not definitive the true figure of homelessness is likely to be even higher.

Shelter has launched an urgent appeal in response to this mounting crisis, calling on the public to support its frontline advisers as they work tirelessly to help people to stay in their home or find a new one.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless. Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for.

“On a daily basis, we speak to hundreds of people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness. A trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts.

The charity’s report, ‘Far from alone: Homelessness in Britain in 2017’ also shows just how hard it can be to escape homelessness amid a drought of affordable homes and welfare reforms, such as the freeze on housing benefit and recent roll-out of Universal Credit.

“As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline services remains absolutely critical. We will do all we can to make sure no-one is left to fight homelessness on their own. But we cannot achieve this alone; we urgently need the public’s support to be there for everyone who needs us right now.”

In England, where more people are affected, over a third of those living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time.

One in every 200 people in England is currently homeless. However, to identify where the epidemic is most acute, the charity mapped the top 50 hotspots with the highest levels of homelessness in the country.

Newham topped the list where 1 in every 25 people are homeless. This was closely followed by Haringey (1 in 29), Westminster (1 in 31), and Enfield (1 in 33). But it is not just in the capital where the picture is alarmingly bleak. Areas such as Luton, where 1 in 52 people are homeless, Birmingham (1 in 88) and Manchester (1 in 154) also feature in the top 50.

Case study: Victoria, 72, from London, is living in temporary accommodation after being made homeless because her landlord decided to sell her privately rented home, and she couldn’t find anywhere else to go.

Victoria said: “After getting my eviction notice I desperately tried to find another place to rent but to no avail. I found landlords either didn’t want to let to someone on housing benefit, even though I’ve always paid my rent, or the properties were simply too expensive for me.

“Presenting myself as homeless was in itself humiliating and scary. You’re left sitting around for hours, waiting to find out if you’ll have a place to stay that night. I’m in temporary accommodation now. I spend every day dealing with letting agents, searching for a place to rent, or just some way out of here. If I get the chance to visit a friend’s house it’s so hard to come back to this place afterwards, and leave behind the warm environment a of a real home.

“The whole thing makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. I’ve moved around a lot, and yet for the first time in my life I feel like I have no control over my situation. I’m not easily scared, but the fear is terrible – you just don’t know where you are doing to end up. I’m in a constant state of anxiety and stress. I hope that finally with Shelter’s help, I might one day find a safe place to call home again.”

To support Shelter’s urgent appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.

Notes to editors:

Heatmap of homelessness hotspots in England

//images.ctfassets.net/6sxvmndnpn0s/bx4oZDdxRoseDjTqvEUmm/4b9bbc4bf6dba5335c16a46340073551/OBR-2146-Christmas-heatmaps_v2.jpg
  • Click here for full report.

  • This analysis estimates the total numbers of recorded homeless people (adults and children) in Britain at the most recent point in time possible.

  • To arrive at a figure for the number of homeless people in England we have added together figures on different forms of recorded homelessness. Most of these are from official sources (DCLG figures on temporary accommodation and rough sleeping), plus Social Services figures via an FOI and figures on single homeless hostel bed spaces from Homeless Link’s annual report that have been adjusted down for voids and double-counting.

  • Figures for Wales and Scotland have been added in and estimated using households in temporary accommodation and multiplying by England’s average people per household in temporary accommodation and rough sleeping data (available for Wales only).

  • The local level figures are drawn from two of these sources only - rough sleeping and temporary accommodation, because the other datasets are at a regional level only. Local figures are only available for England due to the lack of detailed data for Scotland and wales.

  • Our estimates are then used in conjunction with the latest ONS population estimates (mid-year 2016) to produce '1 in x people'.

  • The figures should be viewed as robust lower-end estimates of recorded homelessness. Numerous conservative assumptions have been built into the analysis. For example, that 'other' household types in the temporary accommodation figures contain only two people when they will contain a minimum of two. Additionally, the hostel bed spaces data from Homeless Link has been adjusted down to account for voids (10%) and down much further by assuming that all single people in TA took one of these bed spaces each. Additionally, responses to the FOI on social services arranged TA were incomplete, so this has to be an underestimate.

  • The figures do not include 'hidden' or unrecorded homelessness which is very difficult to quantify, but known to be sizeable. A poll of 2,000 UK adults commissioned by Homeless Link in December 2013, found that 32% of people have experienced homelessness (including sofa surfing and staying with friends) or know someone who has experienced homelessness. 14% had experienced it themselves, 20% knew someone else who had experienced it, 2% said they had both experienced it and knew others who had.”

  • The ONS Population estimate for the Newcastle upon Tyne Local Authority area is 296,478 (2016 mid-year population estimates, ONS).

  • We have estimated what proportion of households will still be temporary accommodation (TA) one year from now using the TA duration and stock data from DCLG Temporary accommodation live tables – (779, 777 & 775).   By applying the duration in TA proportions (Table 779 – under 6 months, between 6-12 etc.) for households leaving TA to the corresponding stock value we could model entry points in time for households into TA. The duration in TA proportions data is broadly consistent for each quarter, meaning this model generates consistent results.  The data is published quarterly, therefore, we could estimate, for each quarter, which households would subsequently remain in TA for over 12 months.  The final figure is a four quarters summation of households in TA for at least 1 year. Over recent years the number of households leaving TA per quarter has been consistently higher than those joining despite the overall number of households in in TA increasing. We have assumed therefore that some households are accepted into TA each quarter without being captured in official statistics.

Table 1: Top 50 areas with highest rates of recorded as homelessness (comprises temp. accommodation and rough sleeping figures only)

Local AuthorityRegionNumber of people living in TANumber of people rough sleepingTotal homeless peopleTotal people1 in x people are homelessNational Rank
Local AuthorityRegionNumber of people living in TANumber of people rough sleepingTotal homeless peopleTotal people1 in x people are homelessNational Rank
NewhamLondon13,5664113,607340,978251
HaringeyLondon9,688299,717278,451292
WestminsterLondon7,7942608,054247,614313
EnfieldLondon10,051610,057331,395334
Kens & ChelsLondon4,387144,401156,726365
Waltham ForestLondon7,587477,634275,843366
BrentLondon8,881248,905328,254377
Barking & DagLondon5,57355,578206,460378
Tower HamletsLondon7,417117,428304,854419
HackneyLondon6,150176,167273,5264410
RedbridgeLondon6,197606,257299,2494811
LewishamLondon6,198166,214301,8674912
Hamm & FulhamLondon3,51563,521179,6545113
LutonEast of England4,113764,189216,7915214
EalingLondon6,529276,556343,1965215
CroydonLondon7,007687,075382,3045416
BarnetLondon7,011227,033386,0835517
LambethLondon5,656175,673327,9105818
SouthwarkLondon4,955324,987313,2236319
Brighton & HoveSouth East4,0741444,218289,2296920
WandsworthLondon4,59054,595316,0966921
BromleyLondon4,47834,481326,8897322
BroxbourneEast of England1,30131,30496,7797423
BexleyLondon2,918112,929244,7608424
BirminghamWest Midlands12,7305512,7851,124,5698825
KingstonLondon1,910231,933176,1079126
HounslowLondon2,744342,778271,1399827
HarrowLondon2,358102,368248,75210528
Milton KeynesSouth East2,358382,396264,47911029
IslingtonLondon1,916111,927232,86512130
HarlowEast of England6812070185,99512331
City of LondonLondon2550759,40112532
HaveringLondon1,932241,956252,78312933
SloughSouth East1,092251,117147,18113234
HillingdonLondon2,166282,194302,47113835
WatfordEast of England6621367596,77314336
SuttonLondon1,33181,339202,22015137
ManchesterNorth West3,433783,511541,26315438
GosportSouth East527653385,36316039
DartfordSouth East6339642105,54316440
ReadingSouth East95622978162,66616641
Bristol, City ofSouth West2,600742,674454,21317042
BasildonEast of England1,062171,079183,37817043
DacorumEast of England8676873152,69217544
Epsom & EwellSouth East425342879,58818645
PeterboroughEast of England1,021211,042197,09518946
CamdenLondon1,254171,271246,18119447
New ForestSouth East8864890179,23620148
GreenwichLondon1,37981,387279,76620249
ChelmsfordEast of England81714831174,08920950
NewhamLondon13,5664113,607340,978251
HaringeyLondon9,688299,717278,451292
WestminsterLondon7,7942608,054247,614313
EnfieldLondon10,051610,057331,395334
Kens & ChelsLondon4,387144,401156,726365
Waltham ForestLondon7,587477,634275,843366
BrentLondon8,881248,905328,254377
Barking & DagLondon5,57355,578206,460378
Tower HamletsLondon7,417117,428304,854419
HackneyLondon6,150176,167273,5264410
RedbridgeLondon6,197606,257299,2494811
LewishamLondon6,198166,214301,8674912
Hamm & FulhamLondon3,51563,521179,6545113
LutonEast of England4,113764,189216,7915214
EalingLondon6,529276,556343,1965215
CroydonLondon7,007687,075382,3045416
BarnetLondon7,011227,033386,0835517
LambethLondon5,656175,673327,9105818
SouthwarkLondon4,955324,987313,2236319
Brighton & HoveSouth East4,0741444,218289,2296920
WandsworthLondon4,59054,595316,0966921
BromleyLondon4,47834,481326,8897322
BroxbourneEast of England1,30131,30496,7797423
BexleyLondon2,918112,929244,7608424
BirminghamWest Midlands12,7305512,7851,124,5698825
KingstonLondon1,910231,933176,1079126
HounslowLondon2,744342,778271,1399827
HarrowLondon2,358102,368248,75210528
Milton KeynesSouth East2,358382,396264,47911029
IslingtonLondon1,916111,927232,86512130
HarlowEast of England6812070185,99512331
City of LondonLondon2550759,40112532
HaveringLondon1,932241,956252,78312933
SloughSouth East1,092251,117147,18113234
HillingdonLondon2,166282,194302,47113835
WatfordEast of England6621367596,77314336
SuttonLondon1,33181,339202,22015137
ManchesterNorth West3,433783,511541,26315438
GosportSouth East527653385,36316039
DartfordSouth East6339642105,54316440
ReadingSouth East95622978162,66616641
Bristol, City ofSouth West2,600742,674454,21317042
BasildonEast of England1,062171,079183,37817043
DacorumEast of England8676873152,69217544
Epsom & EwellSouth East425342879,58818645
PeterboroughEast of England1,021211,042197,09518946
CamdenLondon1,254171,271246,18119447
New ForestSouth East8864890179,23620148
GreenwichLondon1,37981,387279,76620249
ChelmsfordEast of England81714831174,08920950

Compiled from official statistics on temporary accommodation (as at Q2 2017) and rough sleeping (Autumn 2016). TA figures adjusted to estimate total number of people (adults and children), rather than households.

Table 2: National and regional results

RegionNumber of people living in TA [1]Number of people rough sleeping [2]Number of people in single homeless hostel (minus voids & overlap with statutory) [3] plus number of people in social services TA [4]Total homeless people [1+2+3+4]Total people [5]Rate (1 in x)
North East991451,3612,3972,636,8481,100
North West6,3553132,6869,3547,219,623772
Yorks & Hum2,5191722,1224,8135,425,7411,127
East Midlands3,9532552,2286,4364,724,437734
West Midlands18,0632892,54520,8975,800,734278
East17,3346042,45320,3906,130,542301
London159,6809643,721164,3658,787,89253
South East23,5479563,10827,6119,026,297327
South West8,0085362,71111,2595,515,953490
England242,8204,13421,376268,33055,268,067206
Great Britain280,7364,44722,048307,23163,785,900208

Sources: [1] Calculated from DCLG Homelessness statistics Q2 2017, Households that are homeless, owed a legal duty and living in TA, estimated as people (adults and children) [2], DCLG Homelessness statistics: Rough Sleeping, Autumn 2016 (latest available) [3] Single bed spaces in hostels, Homeless Link, 2016. 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 to ensure a conservative estimate with 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 under Children's Act legislation. 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 2016. Estimates for Scotland and Wales calculated by applying average number of people per household in TA in England to respective figures. Figure has risen by 13,000 people in one year, when compared with an equivalent for Q2 2016.