The number of reported homeless people in London and the South East has increased heavily in the past year, suggesting that rising property prices are starting to genuinely force people out of their homes.
Government data that analysed reported cases of homelessness between September 2012 and 2013 indicated that a monumental 57,350 houses were made homeless and put into short term accommodation such as motels and B&B’s. This represents an 8% increase during the course of the year and intriguingly seems to coincide with the price rises of housing in the South.
It is now believed that there are over 2000 British families that are living in temporary motel accommodation, which is the largest amount for ten years.
Alarmingly, over 66% of the reported homes had either kids or pregnant women living in them, suggesting that more should be done to ensure the future wellbeing of houses with people such as these.
Earlier this week it was announced that the government would refocus their flagship ‘Funding for Lending’ scheme away from the housing market and into small business lending, with many citing that this was a direct response to previous warnings that it was in danger of ‘overheating’.
London and the South East were identified as potentially the most problematic of areas as property prices and the cost of living are genuinely higher than in the rest of the country.
Londoners in particular appear to have been particularly hard hit by property prices, with 4410 homes being treated as homeless last year. This is a 13% increase from the year before and shockingly means that the capital comprises 33% of the total homeless cases this year.
Many charities have accounted for the increase by identifying that monthly costs for renting had risen significantly in the past year, meaning that households have found it difficult to renew their leases with higher payments as they cannot afford the new payments.
Subsequently, they have argued that these people turn to councils to help with their housing but are forced into temporary accommodation because there are simply not enough council flats available for distribution.
And this theory may well be accurate with government data indicating that the primary factor behind house loss in London was the completion of assured short hold tenancy, equating to just fewer than 1500 homes.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive officer at the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “With a third of all new cases of homelessness coming from London, this shows the dark side of the capital’s housing boom. Soaring prices and increased demand combined with cuts to housing benefit are pushing people into homelessness.
“They are falling out of the private rented sector at an accelerating rate and, if they are lucky, joining the growing numbers in temporary accommodation, whilst growing numbers of others deemed ‘not a priority’ are left to fend for themselves.
“We need the government to address the chronic lack of affordable housing, to take real steps to improve the private rented sector and to urgently consider the impact its housing benefit cuts are having, particularly in the capital.”
Housing charity Shelter have warned that current proceedings will likely mean that over 80,000 kids will be homeless this Christmas, arguing that the effects of the persistent increase in the cost of living and the benefit cuts will clearly be displayed during the festive season.
They added that a failure to act now would lead more and more parents to be unable to house their children without turning to councils and social projects.
Shelter said the statistics meant nearly 85,000 children in Britain faced waking up homeless on Christmas morning. It warned that as the rising cost of living and cuts to the housing safety net continued to take their toll, many more parents were likely to find themselves facing an ongoing struggle to keep a roof over their children’s heads.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “These new figures are even worse than we expected.
“It is an absolute disgrace that thousands of children in Britain face waking up homeless this Christmas morning. We’ll be there to help make sure families get the support they need to get back on their feet, but we need to see the government rebuild our shredded safety net so it’s there to catch families who fall on hard times.”
Mr Robb also identified that the charity is already addressing almost 500 calls a day on their helpline with this number set to increase further during the Christmas period.
Howard Sinclair, chief at another charity, Broadway Homelessness and Support, has warned that more people were in
risk of being homeless in the next two years due to the government’s welfare cuts and the increased financial strain on families due to the constant rising of the cost of living.
He called for more effort to be put into helping the poor in London and the South East as these are the areas where
there is the smallest number of properties available on the market, and also where prices are the most out of reach.
Kevin Williamson, chief policy maker at the National Housing Federation has called for more money to be spent on house building, so that there was enough affordable property to service the populace of the capital and the South East.
Mr Williamson argued: “Homelessness is the bleakest face of our housing crisis and this rise is a real concern. To rid us of this problem we urgently need to build more homes that people can afford – particularly for low-income families who are forever struggling with rising housing costs.
“Until we have the right homes in the right places at the right prices we will still need emergency accommodation to house those that find themselves in a sudden and desperate need of shelter. Temporary accommodation must be protected so that people made homeless can live in secure and affordable homes until they get themselves back on their feet.