East Anglia: Numbers of homeless living on our streets continues to grow

THE number of homeless households in the East of England has jumped by 44% in the last three years, new figures show.

The region showed the highest percentage increase in the whole of the UK with the number of cases rising from 3,660 in 2009/10 to 5,270 in 2011/12..

Across the UK some 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless and in need of emergency accommodation in 2011/12, compared with 40,020 in 2009/10 – an increase of more than 25%.

But despite the rise in the number of cases, spending on tackling homelessness fell from �213.7million to �199.8m between 2009/10 and 2010/11, data experts SSentif said.

Housing authorities have a legal duty to provide emergency accommodation for “priority need” groups left without a home.

They include households with dependent children, pregnant women, vulnerable people with a mental illness or physical disability, victims of domestic violence and people left without homes due to a disaster such as fire or flooding.

Priority need categories also include applicants aged 16 or 17; 18 to 20-year-olds who were previously in care; people left vulnerable as a result of time spent in care, in custody, or the armed forces, and those who have fled their homes because of violence or the threat of violence.

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Last year alone saw 6,130 more households in England left homeless in 2011/12 – a rise of almost 14%, according to figures from SSentif.

The south east has seen a 38% rise in the number of households without a home, with 5,320 cases in 2011/12 compared with 3,870 in 2009/10. London had a 34% rise in the number of homeless households, to 12,720 cases in 2011/12 from 9,460 in 2009/10.

The only region to see a fall in the number of households declared homeless was the north east, which saw a reduction of more than 10% from 2,010 in 2009/10 to 1,800 in 2011/12.

The area with the largest percentage increase was Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, which reported 119 households as homeless in 2011/12, compared with just one case in 2009/10.

Judy Aldred, managing director of SSentif, said: “While these figures are perhaps not surprising given the state of the economy, some of the results for specific councils are quite shocking.

“By analysing the data at council level, we were able to highlight some areas that are showing much greater increases than the national average.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “These figures are a narrow and misleading snapshot. The bigger picture is that homelessness is actually lower than for 28 of the last 30 years – and is half the average rate seen under the previous Government.”

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