Hidden Homeless Crisis.
Statutory homelessness statistics, for England from 2011, show that there were 48,510 acceptances in the UK; up 14% from 42,390 acceptances in 2010.
And on a seasonally-adjusted basis, 49,390 households were living in temporary accommodation on 31st December 2011; a 1% increase from 48,670 in the previous quarter.
But what about ‘the hidden homeless’?
The Government’s headline homelessness statistics focus on those owed the main homelessness duty and entitled to accommodation.
However, it has recently been estimated that there are over 17,000 ‘hidden homeless’ ; AKA sleeping on the floors/sofas of friends and families (‘sofa-surfing’), living in squats, B&B’s or hostels. We believe that it is time that ‘hidden homelessness’ is recognised as a major social problem facing Britain today. Providing people with a roof over their head is not a solution on its own, and must run alongside solutions that help people rebuild their lives. But despite meeting the legal definition of homelessness, this hidden sector of society is still not regarded as a priority for decision makers.
At Landlord Referencing we believe that this blatant disregard of a gradually worsening situation for the UK is a major factor in the creation of the ‘modern ghettos’ that are beginning to emerge in the UK today.
Not only can finding somewhere to stay every night cause:
- extreme stress
it can also be extremely dangerous;
- inadequate accommodation
- unsafe/run-down houses
- living without central heating, etc.
Sofa surfing is also an absolute nightmare for landlords and letting agents; simply because you can’t tell who or how many people are inhabiting your property. As well as major health & safety breaches for both the tenant and the landlord, sofa surfing/over crowding can also cause:
- alienation of good tenants (loss of rent)
- quicker dilapidation / wear & tear of property
- noise pollution
In a recent TV interview, Housing Minister Grant Shapps acknowledged the shortage of UK housing, but fundamentally linked it to deeper rooted issues; i.e. problematic homes, criminality, etc.
Jack Dromey, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government, assigns the problem to the Coalitions ‘dereliction of duty’, brought about by the changes to benefits; increasing poverty, unemployment & shortage of affordable housing.
So, who is to blame?
Is ‘sofa-surfing’ a sign of a troubled economy or inherent problems deeply imprinted into our society?
We would be interested to hear your views on the matter.
Join the discussion HERE.
At Landlord Referencing we believe that it doesn’t actually matter who is to blame or not.
As a nation, we want competent leaders who can provide us with the answers to create a fair and just system for our society and NOT playground tactics from out-of-touch toffs.
Housing may not be the root of the problem but it certainly is one of the most important factors and therefore MUST be made a priority if, as a nation, we are to move onwards and upwards.
Lets get our priorities right.