One in 200 people in Britain now homeless, according to Shelter

Written by Jenni Davidson on 22 November 2018 in News

Homelessness in Britain has increased for the third year in a row according to homelessness charity Shelter

People sleeping rough - Image credit: PA Images

One in 200 people in Britain are homeless, according to research by Shelter.

The charity revealed that homelessness across Scotland, England and Wales has risen for the third year in a row and now stands at almost 320,000.

Last year the number of homeless people in Britain increased by nearly 13,000, a four per cent rise on the previous year.

Of those, over 5,000 were sleeping rough, with the remaining 315,000 living in temporary accommodation or hostels.

This follows figures published in June that showed around 43,000 people, including children, became homeless in Scotland in the financial year 2017-18.

Homelessness applications in Scotland rose last year for the first time in nine years, with one household losing their home every 18 minutes.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said: “It’s unforgivable that almost 320,000 people in Britain have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home.

“Around 43,000 people were made homeless in Scotland last year.

“Due to a perfect storm of spiralling rents, very harsh welfare cuts and a major lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets, stuck in poor quality accommodation or in a cramped hostel room.”

The charity, which is 50 years old this year, said its advice services helped 21,000 people in Scotland last year, the highest number ever, and it has launched an appeal for more support from the public.

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Labour's housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, said: "The Scottish Parliament introduced world leading legislation on homelessness but under this government’s watch homelessness applications and rough sleeping have increased.

“People are falling through the cracks because of brutal cuts to social security and local government. This cannot go on. 

"The next Labour government will tackle the shame of homelessness head on, and rebuild our communities by ending austerity and delivering the investment our public services and welfare state need."

Scottish Liberal Democrat housing spokesperson Caron Lindsay said the number of people sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation in Scotland was "devastating".

She added: “Poor quality housing and life on the streets take a huge toll on people’s mental and physical health.

“The Scottish Government urgently needs to build more homes for social rent, while the UK Government must end botched and cruel social security policies which are putting people at greater risk of homelessness."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are determined to bring an end to homelessness and rough sleeping in Scotland.

“While temporary accommodation provides an important safety net in emergency situations, we want the time anyone has to spend there to be as short as possible.

“That is why are working to transform the homelessness system so that people can secure a permanent home far more quickly. 

“We have created a £50 million Ending Homelessness Together Fund over five years to support this work.

“We have also allocated £23.5 million for rapid rehousing to support people into settled accommodation and help them with their longer term needs.”

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