Shocking new figures reveal homelessness support in shrinking despite surging demand as the cost of living crisis deepens.
Annual research published by the charity Homeless Link found that almost a quarter of homelessness accommodation providers have witnessed a decrease in funding since 2021.
A further 56% reported no change in funding, indicating the majority of services experienced significant real-term funding cuts.
It follows an investigation by TLE which found government reforms to welfare were fuelling a significant rise in homelessness across the UK.
According to The London Renters’ Union, a grassroots organisation campaigning for a fairer housing market, claimants of Universal Credit are at greater risk of losing their home as spiralling rents stretch household incomes.
The decline in funding follows a 26% increase in rough sleeping across England, continuing a trend of longer-term pressures on homelessness support.
More than 296,180 households were at risk of or experienced homelessness between April 2022 and March 2023, an increase of 6% on 2021-22 and 10% from 2018-19, according to government statistics.
Meanwhile, 3,609 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a given night, an increase of 26% compared to 2021 and 74% since 2010.
‘Demand outstripping supply’
The report, titled Support for Single Homeless People in England 2022, found that a fifth of accommodation services have consistently reported funding decreases over the past decade.
According to data, the number of services has fallen by 33%, from 1,362 to 911 since 2011, with the number of bed spaces available to those experiencing homelessness also down by a fifth.
The report highlights that while the number of accommodation services grew by 2% in 2022, this was largely driven by an increase in London, with every other region in England recording a decrease or no change in numbers.
The figures show surging demand for homelessness support is outstripping supply, with four fifths of homeless day centres and two fifths of accommodation providers experiencing an increase in those requiring support as a result of the cost of living crisis.
Figures also show that the majority of services supported more people who were experiencing homelessness for the first time, with 79% of day centres and 50% of accommodation services offering assistance to those with no past history of losing their home.
Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, warned services are facing increased difficulty in supporting the ‘complex needs’ of individuals with diminishing resources.
He said: “This leads us to the alarming conclusion that we will not be able to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable people in our society unless urgent action is taken.
“The Government must refocus its efforts on preventing homelessness, providing more social housing and raising the Local Housing Allowance rate so that people on low incomes have a more realistic chance of finding somewhere affordable to live.”
He added: “And we need a commitment to sufficient, sustainable funding of the services that offer a lifeline to people who do fall through the gaps and find themselves without a place to call home.”