Homelessness is on the rise in England. Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show there were 56,500 households accepted by respective local authorities as homeless in 2015, an annual increase of 6% and a 33% increase since the Conservative government took office in 2010. In London, homelessness hit a nine-year high: there were 18,650 households accepted by local councils in the capital as homeless, the highest since 2006.
There is a housing shortage in some areas of the country. Social housing waiting lists are overflowing and cuts to welfare, including housing benefit, are biting hard on renters' incomes. To help cope with the increase in rough sleeping, Chancellor George Osborne unveiled in his 2016 Budget an extra £115m in funds to help the homeless, most of which is to go on low-cost 'second stage' accommodation for people leaving temporary hostels and refuges.
"The devastating rise in homelessness revealed by today's figures provides unquestionable proof this country is once again at the mercy of a housing crisis," said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter. "And as the number of homeless people continues to grow, it's clear that the modest proposals on rough-sleeping in the Budget are simply inadequate given the scale of this problem, and will not reach the thousands of homeless families hidden away in cramped B&B's and dingy hostel rooms."
House building is increasing in England and Wales. There were 142,890 housing completions in the year to December 2015, says the DCLG, up 21%. But this is still around half the level needed to meet demand. As a consequence, house prices and rents are rising faster than incomes. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the average house price in England rose 8.6% over the year to January 2016, reaching £305,000. Private rents rose 2.5%. Pay excluding bonuses increased by 1.9%, however.