Homelessness England London Shelter DCLG
Homelessness is rising in England as a housing crisis and welfare cuts bite Getty Images

Official figures reveal an "appalling" rise in homelessness, says the housing charity Crisis. Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) shows a 10% increase over the year in the number of households accepted as homeless by English local authorities in the June to August quarter, hitting 15,170.

"It isn't enough to help people at crisis point," said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis. "We need to prevent them from losing their home in the first place."

Sparkes called on MPs to support the Homelessness Reduction Bill, presented to parliament by Bob Blackman, the Conservative MP for Harrow East, and endorsed by the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee.

"We need a change in the law to prevent more people from losing their home and to make sure all homeless people can get the help they need, while councils need the funding to make this work," he said, welcoming a 4% increase in the number of cases where potential homelessness was prevented. In 93% of cases during the June to August quarter, homelessness was prevented, show the DCLG figures.

Shelter, another housing charity, highlighted the number of people made homeless after being evicted from private rented housing, which hit 18,640 in the year to August 2016 — the highest on record.

"These figures are a heartbreaking reminder of the devastating impact our drastic shortage of affordable homes is having," said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.

"Every day at Shelter we hear from families struggling to keep their heads above water when faced with the double blow of welfare cuts and expensive, unstable private renting, with far too many ultimately losing the battle to stay in their home.

"On top of this, stripped back budgets and a drought of affordable homes are making it increasingly difficult for overburdened councils to find homeless families anywhere suitable to live."

Housebuilding in England is running well below the level needed to meet demand. A housing shortage has driven up rents and house prices in recent years, while cuts to welfare have increased the burden of housing costs for many households. The government has committed to building a million new homes by 2020, including for affordable rent.