Newham’s 12,000 homeless ‘most in England’, report claims
11:44 02 December 2016
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Newham has the highest number of homeless people of any local authority in England, a housing charity has said.
Some 12,246 people out of a total population of 334,218 in the borough have nowhere to live, according to statistics published by Shelter, based on four sets of data – the majority of which come from the government.
This equates to one in 27 people in the borough, meaning that Newham has the second highest proportion of homeless people after Westminster, where the figure is one in 25. The figures include people living in temporary accommodation as well as on the streets.
Keith Fernett, of Canning Town homeless charity Caritas Anchor House, said the figures had “not come as a surprise” and he hoped to work in partnership with Newham Council to meet “this continuing challenge”.
The chief executive said: “We have seen the demand on our homeless services in Newham increase, and in the last 12 months alone, we received 520 per cent more referrals for our services than our capacity – 598 referrals for 115 bedspaces.
“The government need to make a step change in how it supports people who are homeless and invest in the services that are helping homeless people leave that life behind.”
“When Theresa May took office she made a speech about becoming a ‘one-nation’ government and illustrated a determination to tackle inequalities – I would urge her to make good on that speech for the benefit of those that need it most.
The government has said it does not recognise the figures put forward by Shelter and “the actual level of homelessness is less than half the 2003 peak”. The current overall homelessness figure in England is 254,514.
A spokesman said over £500 million during the course of this parliament was being invested which “includes protecting £315m for local authority homelessness prevention funding”.
A Newham Council spokeswoman said: “The housing crisis has resulted in an increase in homelessness across London and this is felt acutely in Newham.
“With a shortage of good quality affordable properties, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find accommodation to meet the high demand and the issue is further exacerbated by the government’s welfare reforms which has restricted the number of properties available to families on low incomes.
She added that the council had taken a “proactive approach to tackling the housing crisis” with the introduction of new solutions such as its own not-for-profit landlord Local Space to provide quality temporary accommodation, private housing developer, Red Door Ventures, and prosecution of rogue landlords.
“However, there’s only so much we can do,” she said. “Local authorities like Newham need the resources and flexibility to invest in housing which is genuinely affordable for those on the lowest incomes.
“Fairer government funding is needed to ensure outer London boroughs like Newham are not left to deal with this housing pressure. The government must work closely with London authorities to find a solution to this housing crisis.”