Sharp rise in number of London’s ‘working homeless’ says Shelter report

Sharp rise in number of London’s ‘working homeless’ says Shelter report

Sixty percent of London families living in temporary accommodation also contain at least one member in employment, according to figures compiled by housing charity Shelter.

Analysis based on replies to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) concluded that 26,000 London families are now in this situation, a rise of 63% from just over 16,000 compared with 2013.

The charity attributes the change to a combination of a high private rents, the continuing freeze in housing benefit levels and a shortage of homes for let at social rents.

It adds that high housing costs are a “major area of concern for many working families” with losing a tenancy “now the single biggest cause of homelessness in London”, accounting for 31% of all London households officially accepted as homeless in the past year.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate described as “disgraceful” a situation where “in many cases parents who work all day or night” are living in a cramped hostel or bed and breakfast dwelling with not enough room to lead a normal family life.

The DWP provided data for each year from 2013 to November 2017 – the most recent year for which it was available at the time of the FoI request – which showed the number of housing benefit claimants flagged as living in “temporary or short-term accommodation”. Figures of the same detail prior to 2013 were not available.

The national data were then subjected to comparisons with other housing benefit statistics and considering by housing benefit experts to derive an estimate of the situation in the capital, where the rate of “working homelessness” is higher than the 55 per cent for England as a whole.

Shelter has commission a study into social housing called the Big Conversation which will publish recommendations later this year.

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