Last month the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) released their quarterly ‘statutory homelessness in England’ stats from July to September 2022.
During that time, 75,860 households were owed a statutory homelessness duty in England – an increase of 4.4% since September 2021. This is when a household is at risk of homelessness and approaches their local authority for help.
Local authorities then have a duty to provide accommodation for people who meet the statutory homelessness criteria.
The main groups given priority support and accommodation are those with dependent children, pregnant women, emergencies and those considered to be vulnerable.
Also, from July to September 2022, 34,130 households were threatened with homelessness and owed a prevention duty.
A prevention duty is when a local authority aims to prevent a threatened household from becoming homeless. This might include trying to keep someone in their current home or finding alternative accommodation to prevent them becoming homeless. This duty typically lasts for 56 days but can be extended.
Our Service Manager for Community Housing, Dean Marsh, has broken down the figures and shared his thoughts.
“Looking at the stats, we can see that ‘end of private rented Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)’ was the most common reason why households were owed a prevention duty,” explained Dean.
“This was the reason why 13,440 (39.4%) of households were owed a prevention duty. This is an increase of 28.6% from the same quarter the previous year, 2021.”
According to the Government data, the biggest reason for the increase was due to rent arrears, caused by increases in rent (166.7% of households). This was followed by tenants having difficulties budgeting and making payments (25.5% of households).
The second most common reason for households being owed a prevention duty was family or friends no longer being able to accommodate them. This accounted for 8,650 households from July to September 2022, up 0.6% from the previous year.
Dean continued: “We know that the current cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on people’s lives. We can see that the biggest increase in the figures is due to rent arrears.
“People are struggling to budget their money and pay their bills, which results in them losing their home. They’re having to make choices between their essentials – heating, eating and rent.
“At Concrete we recognise this – it’s something we’re seeing a lot. That’s why as well as housing people in our homes, we’re providing vital wraparound support too.
“We can’t just house someone, keep them warm for a while and then send them away with no support. It’s about teaching them how to navigate society, which is difficult if you have been on the outside of it for such a long time.
“Many of the customers we see at Concrete have been entrenched in a homeless lifestyle for many years. It takes tailored support, kindness and understanding to truly make changes and break the cycle of homelessness.
“It’s the little things too. We recently opened our new pantry at our Stoke head office. This is stocked with essential food and toiletries, all completely free to our customers, to make sure they have everything they need and don’t have to go without.
“We want our customers to be well equipped for life after our support, to prevent them from becoming homeless again.”
At Concrete, we believe that homelessness is never a choice. No one wants to sleep on the street. No one wants to brave the cold. No one wants to live in fear.
“People become homelessness for so many different reasons,” added Dean.
“People can become homeless due to having their home repossessed, losing a rented home through increased rent, for example, fleeing dangerous situations, like domestic abuse, and other relationship or family breakdowns.
“It’s never a choice. It might sometimes look that way, if we see someone coming back into the system again and again, but there’s always a bigger reason. Everyone has a unique story that has brought them to a homelessness service. The cycle of homelessness can be a difficult one to escape.
“Housing is a right, not a privilege – everyone has the right to a secure home where they feel safe.
“At Concrete we won’t stop fighting to achieve our mission of making homelessness history. We want to make sure that everyone has somewhere safe to rest their head each night.”