CHAIN statistics: Cost of living homelessness crisis

published on 31 Jan 2023

As new figures show an increase in the number of people sleeping rough in London, The Salvation Army fears that the rise in the cost of living has fuelled a homelessness crisis.

Quarterly CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) figures [1] show:

  • 3570 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London in October and December 2022.
  • Of those sleeping rough, 1700 were doing so for the first time.

This is a 21% increase in the total number sleeping rough and a 29% rise in first-time rough sleepers compared to this time last year, which is before the rise in inflation led the cost of living to spiral. The church and charity has called for urgent Government action before more people lose the roof over their heads.

The Salvation Army also warns that organisations that help the homeless now struggle to run services due to the cost of living just as they are needed more than ever.

Director of The Salvation Army’s Homeless Services Unit, Nick Redmore, said: “These figures suggest rising costs are pushing people onto the streets and we fear the number who are homeless will grow unless the Government takes urgent action.

“More must be done to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Benefits are meant to be a safety net, but Local Housing Allowance hasn’t kept up with inflation so doesn’t cover the full cost of accommodation. The Government’s own figures [2] have shown that there is a growing number of people at risk of homelessness because they are unable to pay their rent.

“This is a dual crisis. The cost of living has not only put tremendous pressure on vulnerable people but also on the services designed to help them.

“The Government should be extremely concerned about the huge impact that increase demand coupled with rising costs is having on the already stretched homelessness services. Without their much-needed shelter, food and emotional and practical expert support who will help the growing number of rough sleepers?”

The Government has committed to end rough sleeping by 2024. To meet that ambitious target, The Salvation Army is calling for:

  • Reversal of the freeze on the value of Local Housing Allowance rates to enable people claiming Universal Credit or housing benefit to afford to rent at least three in every ten of the most affordable properties in any given area.  
  • Cities and regions with high levels of homelessness to introduce the same recording system of the rough sleeping population as in London (CHAIN statistics), which provides detailed information on the number of homeless people in need of support.
  • Government funding for homelessness and rough sleeping to rise in line with inflation. This will help the sector to meet the needs of those currently and at risk of homelessness. 
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