Homelessness on 'shocking' scale amid surge in households with nowhere to live

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A charity has hit out at the "shocking" scale of homelessness in England after Government figures showed a 31% surge in households who found themselves with nowhere to live over the last five years.

Some 57,750 households were accepted as homeless by their local council in the last year, according to figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

This marks a sharp 31% increase compared with the 44,160 households accepted as homeless over the same period five years earlier. It also marks the highest annual total seen since around 2008.

On top of this, councils dealt with 198,100 cases in the last year where positive action was taken to prevent people on the verge of becoming homeless from being tipped over the edge.

Shelter said the figures underline the scale of those families who are on the brink of losing their home.

It said that in uncertain times, the Government must make sure that households who fall into difficulty get the support they need.

The DCLG's figures also showed that 6,860 families with children were being housed in B&B accommodation and hostels across England. This is more than double the number recorded five years ago.

Shelter's chief executive Campbell Robb said: "These figures paint a picture of the shocking scale of homelessness in this country - from families who have already been through the trauma of losing their homes, to many more being driven to the brink.

"Sky-high housing costs mean that every day at Shelter we hear from families struggling to keep their heads above water, knowing that just a small change in income could send them spiralling towards homelessness."

A DCLG spokesman said statutory homelessness remains at less than half of the peak levels seen in 2003-04.

He said the Government "is committed to supporting the most vulnerable in our society", and continued: "That is why, in addition to the £139 million already committed to homelessness programmes, we have maintained homelessness prevention funding of £315 million for local authorities.

"We are determined to prevent more people from becoming homeless in the first place and so are considering options, including legislation, with local authorities, homelessness charities and across departments."