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Thousands are homeless in the Midlands and the number is set to double

Thousands are homeless in the Midlands and the number is set to double

The number of homeless households in the Midlands will almost double unless action is taken, a major national charity has warned.

Currently there are 14,700 homeless households in the Midlands, and this number is set to rise to 28,400 by 2036.

The warning came from homelessness charity Crisis, which published an analysis by academics at Heriot-Watt University.

They said it provided the most complete picture to date of the worst forms of homelessness, including rough sleeping and sofa surfing.

London has the biggest homelessness problem, thanks partly to sky-high property prices and rents, with 40,500 households already affected. This number is projected to rise to 102,100 by 2031.

But the study shows that people in the Midlands are also suffering.

It found 159,900 households nationwide, around 236,000 people in total, were experiencing a form of homelessness in 2016.

There were 9,100 people sleeping rough in 2016, with the number forecast to rise to 16,000 in 2026.

Last year 68,300 households were staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis, known was “sofa surfing”. There were 19,300 households in unsuitable temporary accommodation and 37,200 households living in hostels.

The study found 8,900 households were sleeping in tents, cars or on public transport, 12,100 households lived in squats and 5,000 households were in women’s refuges or winter night shelters.

Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive said: “Unless we take action as a society, the problem is only going to get worse with every year that passes.

“That means more people sleeping on our streets, in doorways or bus shelters, on the sofas of friends or family, or getting by in hostels and B&Bs. In order to tackle this, we need to first understand the scale of the problem.”

He welcomed the Government’s pledge to tackle rough sleeping, but urged “action and long term planning to end homelessness for good”.

The report argued a 60% increase in new housing could reduce levels of homelessness by 19% by 2036.

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said the Government was set to publish new plans to reduce homelessness.

The spokesman said: “We know this is an issue Government can’t solve alone and so welcome Crisis’s support for our commitment to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

“Alongside investing £550 million to 2020 to address the issue, we’re implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will require councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless.

“There’s more to do and ministers will set out plans shortly.”

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said they could reduce homelessness if they were allowed to build more homes.

Spokesperson Judith Blake said: “There is no substitute for a renaissance in council house building if we’re to truly address the rising homelessness we face as a nation.

“For that to happen, Government needs to allow councils to borrow to invest in genuinely affordable housing and to keep all of their receipts from Right to Buy sales, so that money can be reinvested into delivering genuinely affordable homes.”

Labour Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “It is a national scandal that in 21st-century Britain the number of people experiencing homelessness is spiralling upwards.

“These new figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of Conservative ministers’ seven years of failure on housing.”

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