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Government disputes research from Shelter claiming 225,000 people are homeless

16 December 2016

Church Urban Fund

Hard bed: staff members from Church House and Church Urban Fund inspect the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, where they slept last Friday, to raise money for the homeless

Hard bed: staff members from Church House and Church Urban Fund inspect the cloisters of Westminster Abbey, where they slept last Friday, to raise mon...

ALMOST a quarter-of-a-million people in England are currently home­less, research released by the charity Shelter indicates.

The data suggest that a “con­servative” figure for the number of people living in temp­orary accom­modation, or sleeping rough on the streets, is almost 225,000.

Shelter, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, compiled the findings through a combination of govern­ment data and exclusive stat­istics, obtained through Freedom of Infor­mation requests.

London is the worst area in the UK for homelessness: 18 boroughs are in Shelter’s list of the top 20 places where people are most at risk of becoming homeless.

Other homelessness “hotspots” outside the capital include Brighton, where Shelter estimates that one in 69 people are homeless, and Luton, where the figure is one in 63.

The Government has said that it does not recognise the figures, and that it has invested more than £500 million to help prevent or relieve homelessness.

The Government’s refusal to acknowledge the data comes a week after the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Govern­ment, Sajid Javid, spoke about how young people sleeping outside his office were a “very real, daily reminder of the challenge we face”.

Shelter’s website states that more than 120,000 children in Britain will be homeless this Christmas; the charity’s helpline receives a call every 30 seconds.

The chief executive of the Christian charity Housing Justice, Alison Gelder, said the Govern­ment’s refusal to recognise the figures was absurd when the findings were based on the Govern­ment’s sources. “Speaking to the . . . churches and faith communities that Housing Justice represents, the actual num­bers are likely to be significantly higher.”

She said that, based on the Hidden Homelessness report ten years ago, which suggested that 400,000 people were homeless, the figure would now be nearer 500,000.

Housing Justice, in partnership with the Church Housing Trust and Jubilee Plus, will be holding a con­ference for all denominations to discuss working together to alleviate the homelessness issue.

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