, Homelessness in the UK 2019/2020
Homelessness is a struggle we see locally and nationally; my question to you is how many people do you think are homeless in the UK?
In the last year, more than 320,000 people have slept on the streets at least once, an estimate of 170,000 of those people are experiencing rough sleeping, night shelters or improper temporary accommodation in the UK, as research has suggested.
A strong example of this are the hidden homeless, more commonly known as “sofa surfing” to which 71,000 people are experiencing today; people who become homeless find a short-term solution provided by family, friends, squats etc. To address this problem the UK government are determined to spend £437m this year to tackle homelessness, supporting this cause, Oxford city council has withdrawn £7.4m from the governments funding to cover the basic necessities e.g. beds, showers and meals plus supporting people with landlords and finding employment; due to the new increase in funding the council have been able to plan the construction of 600 new properties to eradicate this distressing issue therefore providing potential permanent accommodation to those in need.
Similarly, the estimation of rough sleepers within the UK has increased more than double since 2010 with a staggering 320,000 people bedded down on the street each night, which leaves them vulnerable to external factors such as illness and abuse. Originally, the fund for this matter was £100m as of 2018, but due to this increasing problem, these funds have risen to £437m, as mentioned above, established in 2020. However, a Vagrancy Act was introduced in 2008, making begging an offence to which people can be charged with a maximum fine of £1,000, this includes sleeping in any deserted, unoccupied building, or in the open air.

Temporary accommodation is provided to those who don’t have a permanent home, the Housing Executive does not have to arrange temporary accommodation to everyone but provide to certain people. Temporary accommodation can be anything from a private flat, a council or housing association flat, housing support, shelters and bed & breakfast hostels. Currently there are 86,000 households under temporary accommodation during 2019-2020, which is the highest recorded figure in four years; an estimate of 127,000 children are living within these facilities provided by local councils today. The growth of homeless families and the ever growing cost of bed and breakfast hostels caused authorities to break their budget, according to the councils in 2018/19 ; the Local Government Association (LGA) have found that these councils have spent £663m on homelessness services in the past year, exceeding the £140m budget that was set. This growing concern to provide temporary accommodation for the homeless has been acknowledged by local councils to which their actions to steadily increase their expenditure has been an effective response in tackling this issue. However ,there was a 316% increase in the number of households placed in temporary accommodation outside of their local authority between the end of June 2010 – June 2019, therefore, conveying that the need to provide temporary accommodation is still a prominent problem today. Yet, Cornerstone Partnership are overseeing this issue and turning unloved properties into suitable, quality standard homes for families who need temporary accommodation until they receive permanent housing elsewhere.

Despite this, there has been positive action through social support to tackle this on growing matter. Across the UK, there are a large number of charities working to end homelessness, providing services for people experiencing rough sleeping, temporary or insecure accommodation and are at risk of homelessness. People who become homeless due to unfortunate circumstances will have different needs, therefore a wide range of charities offer specific support and services to guide them in the right direction. Crisis, Shelter, the Salvation Army, Homeless Link, Cornerstone Partnership, etc, are just the few names working amongst many to end this relentless affair. Shelter offers advice, information, representation and advocacy to the homeless, unsuitable housing or risk of becoming homeless and have helped 44% with tenancy or landlords, 46% with temporary/ permanent accommodation, 18% in an unsafe area, 48% facing eviction and 49% struggling to cope on a daily basis. Cornerstone Partnership are buying unloved properties across the west midlands and restoring them to become safe, suitable and sustainable accommodation for vulnerable families and individuals, working alongside charities and councils to provide good quality accommodation that saves them money.

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