Posts with tag: homelessness

Crisis comments on 16% rise in rough sleeping across London

Published On: August 2, 2022 at 9:53 am

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New figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show a rise in rough sleeping across London, with 2,998 people sleeping rough from April 2022 to June 2022. This is an increase of 16% compared to the same period last year.

It is also a 10% increase on the previous quarter, when 2,714 people were seen sleeping on the capital’s streets.

Other findings from the data release include:

  • There were 1,446 new rough sleepers, a 23% increase on the same period last year.
  • 411 of the people rough sleeping were deemed to be living on the streets, a 13% increase on the previous quarter.
  • 73% of those sleeping rough had one or more support needs. 51% of those sleeping rough had mental health needs.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: “It’s hugely distressing to see there has been a rise in the numbers forced to bed down on the capital’s streets, and especially that we’re seeing more people sleep rough for the first time. This must act as a wakeup call for the new Prime Minister that we cannot be complacent if we’re to end rough sleeping for good.   

“With each passing day the cost of living crisis pushes more people to the edge as they struggle to cope with the surge in bills, rent, and food, and yet we still do not have an updated rough sleeping strategy that sets out a clear plan for how we will tackle one of the greatest social injustices of our time.

“We cannot let anyone else fall through the cracks and face the brutality of homelessness. The new Prime Minister must publish an updated rough sleeping strategy as a matter of urgency, which includes a plan to deliver the genuinely affordable homes we need, so that no one has to face life on the streets.”  

Queen’s Speech announces Government housing and homelessness legislative plans

Published On: May 11, 2022 at 9:20 am

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As part of the Queen’s speech, the Government has unveiled the legislative measures planned for the next parliamentary year.

The plans include:

  • Legislation to make the streets safer, which a Government consultation suggests will replace the Vagrancy Act and could be used to criminalise people sleeping rough
  • Reintroducing the Renters’ Reform Bill, which will scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
  • Regulating social housing to strengthen rights of tenants and ensure better quality social homes.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: “This Queen’s speech provides some hope for renters anxious about being turfed out of their home in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis and recognises the urgent need to address poor quality social housing with tenants’ voices at the heart of this reform.

“But let’s be clear, this speech gives with one hand while taking with the other. The plan to introduce legislation that has the potential to criminalise anyone forced to sleep rough is nothing short of shameful and flies in the face of any effort to tackle rough sleeping for good. What’s more, we need urgent action to pull struggling families back from the brink.

“We cannot end homelessness with this mismatched plan. The Government must take action to provide direct support to families hit by the cost-of-living crisis and plans to introduce punitive legislation must be scrapped, if the Government wants to truly end rough sleeping for good.”

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has also responded to the confirmation in the Queen’s Speech that the Government will bring forward its planned Renters’ Reform Bill to abolish Section 21 repossessions.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, comments: “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that reforms to the rented sector need to strengthen the ability of landlords to tackle anti-social tenants and those with repeated rent arrears. We will continue to work to ensure that these and other grounds for possession are fair and workable.

“Whilst we support proposals for an Ombudsman to cut the number of possession cases needing to go the court, this cannot be a substitute for proper court reform as well. At present it can take almost a year for a private landlord to repossess a property through the courts where they have a legitimate reason to do so. This is simply not good enough.”

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “We can’t level up without dramatic improvements to the quality of rented homes. Reforming tenancies and raising standards in the private rented sector are essential first steps towards this so the Government’s recommitment to a Renters’ Reform Bill is hugely important.

“Renters have been waiting three years for the Government to abolish these insidious Section 21 evictions. Finally, legislation looks to be on its way. But we can’t rest until the changes are passed into law. Now it’s the details that matter.

“It is essential that any new tenancy regime reduces the number of unwanted moves and gives renters the confidence to challenge poor practice by landlords.

“The plans also appear to address the desperate lack of regulation of private landlords, with a new ombudsman, a property portal and a requirement to meet the Decent Homes Standard. We need more detail on each, but they are essential measures if private renters are to exercise their rights effectively.”

Risk of increase in people forced to sleep rough, as cost of living and rent prices rise

Published On: May 5, 2022 at 9:16 am

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A decrease in rough sleeping has been recorded by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).

The figures show 2,714 people were forced to sleep rough in London from January to March 2022, a 10% decrease compared with the same time last year.

The figures also reveal 363 people were seen ‘living on the streets’ (long-term rough sleeping). This is a 26% drop on the previous three months but 15% higher than the same time last year.

The data covers the first three months of 2022, when emergency winter accommodation was in place for part of this period in many areas across the capital, including hotel accommodation provided by Crisis.

With the increasing cost of living piling pressure on households, Crisis is concerned there is a risk that more people will be forced to sleep rough over the coming months.

Matt Downie, Chief Executive of Crisis, comments: “It’s pleasing to see a drop in the number of people forced to sleep on our streets. But with thousands still having to endure the brutality of bedding down night after night, and a rise in people living on the streets, we still have a long way to go before we can take our foot off the pedal.

“With rents rising across much of the country and the cost of living soaring for most, we know that budgets are being squeezed from all sides and this pressure is threatening to tip more and more people into homelessness over the coming months.

“Long-term support is desperately needed so more people aren’t forced into living on the streets. The Government must develop a strong and bold strategy to address the chronic shortage of affordable housing, so people can have a safe and secure place to live. Investing in Housing First is also vital to make sure people with complex support needs get the help and a home they need to leave homelessness behind. Only this decisive action will end rough sleeping for good.”

168% increase in people facing eviction, Government figures show

Published On: April 29, 2022 at 11:06 am

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New figures released by the Government show a rise in the number of families and individuals in England facing homelessness.

5,260 people received a Section 21 notice between October and December 2021, an increase of 168% from the same quarter last year.

The data covers the last few months of 2021. However, with the cost of living crisis now impacting struggling families across the country, national charity Crisis is warning today’s figures may mark just the start of growing numbers of people forced into homelessness.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: “It’s distressing to see that thousands began the new year facing eviction. Now with living costs spiralling and rents rising across much of the country, we know that many more will be in freefall as the financial burden of trying to keep a roof over their head becomes too much.

“Every day through our services we’re hearing from people forced to go without a decent meal so they can cover their electricity bill, while others are considering more costly pre-payment meters just so they can have a little more control over what spare change they pay out and when.

“To stem a rising tide in homelessness, we need the Government to urgently invest in housing benefit, so it covers the true cost of people’s rents. We also need to see a plan put in place laying out how the Government is going to deliver the genuinely affordable homes we need so that people can cope with any sudden change in financial pressure, and we can finally end homelessness for good.”

Call for rent freeze to ease cost of living crisis

Published On: April 28, 2022 at 2:51 pm

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Generation Rent has called for a ban on rent increases. It argues that renters struggling with rising energy bills should be protected from higher rents.

With rents rising in the lettings market, the campaign is also calling for a pause on evictions to stop tenants facing homelessness.

The call comes as Rishi Sunak reportedly told the Cabinet that homeowners face increased mortgage payments of £1,000 per year. Generation Rent says renters are bearing the brunt of rising prices. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 59% of renters were finding it difficult to pay energy bills in March, compared with 43% of mortgaged home owners.

A third of renters (34%) reported that their rent had increased in the past six months, compared with 19% of mortgaged homeowners saying that repayments had increased.

Renters are in a precarious position, says Generation Rent, with just 38% able to pay an unexpected bill of £850, compared with 61% of mortgaged homeowners.

With renters most exposed to the cost of living crisis, Generation Rent is calling on the government to:

  1. Ban increases in rent for the duration of the cost of living crisis
  2. Suspend the use of Section 21 evictions, where the landlord does not need a reason to evict, and Section 8 Ground 8 evictions, where tenants in more than 2 months of rent arrears cannot challenge an eviction
  3. Unfreeze Local Housing Allowance so benefit claimants can pay the rent – rates are frozen at 2019-20 levels
  4. Restore Discretionary Housing Payment funding to 2020-21 levels, when £180m was available for renters struggling with housing costs
  5. Reinstate the £20 per week Universal Credit uplift
  6. Ban landlords from demanding multiple months’ rent up front – a tactic used to deny benefit claimants a home
  7. Increase funds to clear tenants’ rent arrears from the £65m provided in October 2021

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “Although interest rates are rising, home owners are able to minimise costs by remortgaging. Renters don’t have the same option: if your landlord thinks they can get a higher rent from a new tenant, there’s not much you can do. If you try to negotiate, your landlord can simply serve a Section 21 no-fault eviction notice.

“With renters so vulnerable to rent hikes and incomes stagnant, this causes impossible choices between paying rent and putting food on the table. Without a suspension of evictions and a rent freeze, the cost of living crisis will lead to spiralling rent arrears and homelessness for thousands of families.”

Government publishes new consultation on repealing the Vagrancy Act

Published On: April 12, 2022 at 8:15 am

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The Government has launched a new consultation on repealing the Vagrancy Act, open from 7th April 2022 to 5th May 2022.

It seeks views on proposals to respond effectively to begging, potential penalties for harmful begging, and how to encourage vulnerable people to engage with rehabilitative support.

The Government is planning to repeal the Vagrancy Act, looking to ensure the police can protect the public and communities. The publication states that the Government is determined to put an end to rough sleeping.

The publication also highlights that the Government has driven a 43% drop in rough sleeping since 2019, which is currently at an 8-year low.

Responding to the consultation, Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, comments: We were delighted to hear that the Vagrancy Act would be repealed. It’s positive that the government is consulting on how to provide essential support for vulnerable people as part of this.

“However, we cannot replace one punitive legislation with another targeting people on the streets. Our core concern is that the proposals are far too wide, could be open to abuse, and lead to people on the streets being punished instead of given the vital help they need. Through our frontline work, we know that an approach based on punishment will drive people away from trying to get support.

“Instead of focussing on measures that may further penalise people on the streets, the government must instead look at how it can encourage a multi-agency approach. This includes ensuring the police can more effectively work with people in this situation, are given training to enable them to do this, and also looking at what wider support from local authorities and other organisations is needed.”