Rise in families with children and domestic abuse survivors assessed as homeless

·4-min read
Homelessness due to domestic abuse has risen more than a third compared to before the pandemic (PA) (PA Archive)
Homelessness due to domestic abuse has risen more than a third compared to before the pandemic (PA) (PA Archive)

More than one in four households in England assessed as homeless and in need of support between July and September last year contained children, figures show.

Some 36,510 households were identified by local authorities as homeless and in need of help, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said.

This is down 4.6% from the same quarter in 2020, but above the number of households assessed as homeless between July and September 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The number of households containing children was 9,730, 26.7% of the total.

The end of the eviction ban has triggered a rising tide of homelessness that could turn into a flood

Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive

This is a rise of 15.1% from the same quarter in the previous year, and is also up 8.6% from 2019.

Family and friends no longer being willing or able to accommodate people was the most common reason for homelessness, accounting for 11,110 households (30.4%).

The second most common reason was domestic abuse, accounting for 6,310 households (17.3%).

The figures show that homelessness due to domestic abuse in the latest quarter has risen more than a third compared to before the pandemic.

The figures for quarter three of 2021 are up 13.7% from the same quarter last year, and up 34.3% from July to September 2019.

Homelessness legislation requires local authorities to take “reasonable steps” to try to prevent or relieve a household’s homelessness by helping them to secure accommodation for at least six months.

These duties usually last 56 days each.

The DLUHC data shows that 31,310 households were assessed as being threatened with homelessness and in need of support.

This is down 4.0% from the same period in 2020.

However, the number of private renting households threatened with homelessness because they were served a ‘no-fault’ Section 20 notice rose by 59.7% compared to the same quarter last year.

Some 4,440 households were threatened with homelessness after being served a Section 21 notice to end their tenancy, which is likely to reflect the removal of restrictions on evictions from May 2021.

However, the total remains below the number of households threatened with homelessness after receiving a notice in the third quarter of 2019.

Of the total 67,820 households identified as homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, more than half (51.1%) had at least one extra support need.

A quarter had a history of mental health problems, 16.5% had a support need relating to physical ill health or disability, and 12.1% had experienced or were at risk of domestic abuse.

The charity Shelter said the number of households tipped into homelessness between July and September last year is equivalent to a town the size of Burnley.

It is bracing for a “deluge of homelessness” amid rising prices and the end of Covid protections such as furlough, adding that in the first three weeks of January it received more than 21,500 calls to its emergency helpline.

Chief executive Polly Neate said: “Last summer, even with some Covid protections still in place, nearly 400 households a day were thrown into homelessness.

The vital action we took since the beginning of the pandemic helped keep thousands of people in their homes

DLUHC spokeswoman

“Now, living costs are spiralling and all the protections are gone, even more people will be exposed to homelessness.

“The advisers working on our emergency helpline can hear the sheer panic in people’s voices as they ring up desperate to keep a safe roof over their heads.

“The stress and uncertainty of the situation seeps into every part of a person’s or family’s life.

“The end of the eviction ban has triggered a rising tide of homelessness that could turn into a flood.”

A DLUHC spokeswoman said: “The vital action we took since the beginning of the pandemic helped keep thousands of people in their homes.

“This builds on the Homelessness Reduction Act, which since 2017 has stopped almost 450,000 households from becoming homeless. We will build on this success with £316 million invested this year to tackle the issue.

“We will also end Section 21 no-fault evictions and will legislate as soon as practicable.”

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