The number of homeless people in England is set to jump by a third by 2024 as the cost-of-living crisis batters the most vulnerable.
More than 66,000 further people will be sleeping rough by 2024, with the bulk of that increase among people forced to “sofa surf”, according to annual forecasts by the housing charity Crisis and Heriot-Watt University.
They estimate that there will be 8,000 more people rough sleeping and 9,000 people forced into unsuitable temporary accommodation.
Matt Downie, the chief executive of Crisis, said the findings represented a “huge cause for concern”, compounded by a survey of 155 English councils which revealed that nine out of ten town halls expect to see an increase in evictions from private rented homes in the next year.
“We are expecting a tidal wave, to put it mildly,” one council official in southern England told researchers. “It is going to be a very, very busy couple of years.” Councils in London, where living costs are highest, are bracing for the biggest surge.
‘Huge human cost’
The projections come as government measures to stop homelessness during the pandemic are unsound. Core homelessness in England is estimated to have totalled 203,400 in 2020 – a five per cent drop on 2019 levels.
That was largely due to the “Everyone In” initiative, which saw rough sleepers housed in hotels during the first Covid wave. But core homelessness is now expected to reach 270,000 by 2024 – and 300,000 by 2036 unless further action is taken.
“It doesn’t have to be like this,” Downie told The Guardian. “The protections put in place during the pandemic helped thousands of people off the streets and prevented many more from facing homelessness. It would be shameful for this progress to unravel before us, at a huge human cost and a financial one for the local councils left to foot the bill.”
It comes as soaring inflation sent petrol prices to record highs on Monday. The average price of a litre of petrol and diesel at UK forecourts on Sunday was 149p and 153p respectively, according to RAC figures.
This means the cost of filling up a typical 55-litre family petrol car is £82, while diesel models cost £84. RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams described the prices as “another unfortunate landmark”.
He said: “The unrelenting rising price of fuel is hurting households up and down the country, furthering the cost-of-living crisis. Businesses are also suffering with diesel reaching new heights.”
Petrol prices crisis
Prices have soared on the back of rises in wholesale fuel costs, which have jumped amid a resurgence in demand following the reopening of global economies.
Williams continued: “While the price of oil is still close to 100 US dollars a barrel wholesale fuel prices don’t merit further retailer rises across the board at the pumps.
“We realise that smaller retailers who don’t buy fuel as frequently will be hit by higher wholesale costs, but the biggest retailers who buy all the time shouldn’t currently be increasing their forecourt prices.
“We urge them to play fair with drivers at this difficult time.
“Tension between Russia and Ukraine is still weighing heavy on the oil price but there is now a glimmer of hope that more oil may come on to the market from Iran due to a possible nuclear agreement with the US to end sanctions.”