Single men largest group owed homelessness support in six months after lockdown

Jemma Crew, PA Social Affairs Correspondent
·4-min read

Single men were the largest group owed homelessness support in the six months following the first coronavirus lockdown, figures show.

Around half (50.6%) of homeless households owed help in England were single male households, according to figures covering July to September from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

And they made up 30.6% of those owed support to prevent homelessness.

They were also the largest group needing help in April to June.

Single mothers with dependent children were the second largest group of households threatened with homelessness and needing support, making up more than a quarter (26.8%) of the total in the latest quarter.

Between July and September, 68,680 households were assessed as homeless or at risk of becoming so and needing help, down 7% from the same quarter in 2019.

Almost two-thirds (64.6%) were single adult households, and more than one in 10 (11.8%) were people fleeing domestic abuse.

Of those owed help, 37,170 were assessed as homeless – a 3.6% rise from the same quarter in 2019, which MHCLG said was “driven mainly by single males”.

Households assessed as fully homeless in England
(PA Graphics)

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 figures for the latest quarter are based on data provided by 308 out of 314 local authorities.

They show that black people were disproportionately represented among households owed homelessness support.

Of the lead applicants from these households, 10% were black, while black people are only estimated to make up 3.6% of England’s population.

In London, 30% of applications were from black people, who make up 12.4% of the capital’s population.

More than a fifth (22.6%) of the households owed help to relieve or prevent homelessness included a person in full or part-time work.

And 32% of the lead applicants were aged 25-34, with 23% were aged 18-24.

Around a fifth (22.2%) of those assessed as at risk of becoming homeless were in need because their private tenancy had ended.

Just under half (48.9%) of homeless households were not helped to find a home, either because the 56-day time period had elapsed, the council had lost contact with them, or they had refused an offer of accommodation.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Even with the curbs on legal evictions, people are still being thrown into homelessness, as they have throughout this crisis.

“From the taxi driver sleeping rough because the council say they cannot help, to the mother fleeing domestic abuse in search of a place of safety, this pandemic continues to be a never-ending nightmare.

“Too many people have suffered too much. The Government cannot continue to fail its citizens by allowing homelessness to rise through inaction. There is only one exit strategy that will end this crisis for good, and that is rapid investment in genuinely affordable social homes.”

The figure also show that 93,490 households were in temporary accommodation on September 30 – up 7% from the same date in 2019.

The number of single adults in temporary accommodation rose 42.7% over this period to 27.410 households, while the number of families with children fell 12.6%.

But the number of households in temporary accommodation fell 4.9% from June 30.

MHCLG said this was due to a 13.1% fall in families with children and a 9.7% rise in single adults needing help.

London accounted for 62.8% of the total number of households in temporary accommodation on September 30.

A total of 111,910 dependent children were in temporary accommodation on September 30 2020, a decrease of 12.5% compared with September 2019.

A Government spokeswoman said: “The figures published today demonstrate that the decisive action we are taking has protected renters from eviction, supported rough sleepers and other vulnerable people, and helped to keep them safe during the pandemic.

“Renters will continue to be protected, including six-month notice periods, and a ban on the enforcement of evictions, except in the most serious circumstances.

“We’re providing an unprecedented package of support, with over £700 million this year to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping for good and we will continue our ambitious plans with a further £750 million next year.”