Homelessness set to soar in England amid cost of living crisis


The number of people homeless in England is predicted to jump by a third by 2024 as councils warn of a “tidal wave” of need caused by benefits freezes, soaring food and energy bills and the end of Covid eviction bans.

More than 66,000 more people will be homeless by 2024, with the bulk of the increase being among people forced to “sofa surf”, according to annual forecasts by the housing charity Crisis and Heriot-Watt University. There will be 8,000 more people rough sleeping and 9,000 people forced into unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Councils in London, where living costs are highest, are predicting the biggest surge.

The bleak projections come as government measures to prevent homelessness during the pandemic unwind. Core homelessness in England – a concept which captures the most acute forms of homelessness – is estimated to have totalled 203,400 in 2020, down 5% on 2019 levels.

This was primarily due to the widely praised “Everyone In” initiative during the pandemic which saw rough sleepers housed in hotels. But this measure is now predicted to rise to 270,000 by 2024 and reach close to 300,000 by 2036, unless further countermeasures are taken.

Evictions slumped during the pandemic, as ministers paused court proceedings, but are now increasing again. There were more than 14,000 possession claims between October and December last year, a 42% rise on the previous quarter.

In December, the government announced a £316m homelessness prevention fund for councils for the next financial year that it said would protect tens of thousands of people from homelessness. It was welcomed by Crisis and the founder of the Big Issue, John Bird.

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