Ministers urged to look at Wales’s effective law after 33% increase in people accepted as homeless by English councils. Written by Patrick Butler Social policy editor for http://www.theguardian.com

Rise in homelessness in England triggers calls to follow Welsh strategy

England’s homelessness crisis is continuing to grow with new data showing a 33% rise since 2010 in people accepted as homeless by councils, putting further pressure on the government to act.

A Shelter analysis using the latest official data showed a 6% year-on-year rise in the total number of households accepted as homeless during 2015, including an 8% rise in homeless households with dependant children.

The loss of a tenancy remained the biggest cause of homelessness in 2015, including 17,000 households given emergency accommodation by their council after being evicted from a privately rented home.

Shelter said the 56,600 people accepted as homeless by councils in 2015 was 33% higher than in 2010.

The increase triggered calls for ministers to follow the Welsh government in placing a legal duty on councils to help people in housing crisis after new figuresfor Wales showed a 67% decrease in formal homelessness in nine months.

The homelessness prevention law introduced last April by Wales’s Labour-led administration obliges councils to provide practical help to anyone who is homeless or at risk of losing their home.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, said the success of the Welsh model offered a way forward for England and urged ministers to consider changing the law.

“We strongly urge the government to follow through on its commitment to consider options – including legislation – to prevent more people from becoming homeless. It is essential that all homeless people can get the help they need and that councils get the necessary funding to deliver on this.”

A Department of Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “We know more must be done which is why are considering all options, including legislation, to prevent more people becoming homeless in the first place.

“This government has always been committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in our society and while statutory homelessness remains less than half the 2003-04 peak, one person without a home is one too many.”

Last week the chancellor, George Osborne, said homelessness was“unacceptable in our day and age”. Hesubsequently announced a £115m package of measures in the budget aimed at tackling rough sleeping.

However, Shelter said Osborne’s announcement on rough sleepers failed to address the root causes of wider homelessness, such as shortage of housing, rising rents and shrinking housing benefit support.

Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “As the number of homeless people continues to grow, it’s clear that the modest proposals on rough-sleeping in the budget are simply inadequate given the scale of this problem, and will not reach the thousands of homeless families hidden away in cramped B&Bs and dingy hostel rooms.”

The Shelter year-on-year analysis used official homelessness figures for England for each of the four quarters of 2015, including the October-December data published on Wednesday.

Source: The Guardian