Levels of homelessness in England this Christmas are likely to be 14% higher than last year, according to analysis by Shelter, which blamed a housing emergency it said is out of control.
The charity estimated that on any given night in 2023 there were 309,550 people in some form of homelessness, the majority of whom were in temporary accommodation.
This is up from its estimate of 271,421 in its 2022 annual report.
Shelter said it collated the most recent figures using official Government statistics, data collected by Homeless Link – the national membership charity for organisations working directly with the homeless – on people in hostels or supported accommodation, and responses from some local authorities to Freedom of Information requests.
The charity described its research as a snapshot of the number of people recorded as homeless on any given night in 2023 – although most of the figures cover the first six months of the year.
Shelter said the analysis is the “most comprehensive overview of recorded homelessness in England”.
But it warned the true figure could be higher due to some “hidden homelessness” such as sofa-surfing.
Chief executive Polly Neate said: “Homelessness is on nobody’s Christmas list, but 309,000 people will spend this time of year in a tiny hostel room or freezing in a doorway.
“The housing emergency is out of control. Chronic under-investment in social homes has left people unable to afford skyrocketing private rents and plunged record numbers into homelessness.
“It is appalling that the Government has allowed thousands of families to be packed into damp and dirty B&Bs and hostel rooms, which are traumatising children and making people desperately ill.
“Until the Government takes this emergency seriously, our frontline services will do everything they can to help people keep or find a safe home this winter.
“It is only with the public’s support that we can continue to provide vital advice and support and fight for the solutions people want and need to end homelessness.”
The charity said it received full responses from 40 local authorities when it asked for figures on the number of adults and children living in temporary accommodation arranged by social services as of the end of June.
This figure totalled 1,604, while the number of single homeless people living in hostels was estimated at 20,071.
The latest Government figures, published in November, showed that the numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England have hit new record highs.
The statistics showed that 105,750 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of June.
The figure was a new high since records began 25 years ago and an increase of 10.5% compared with the end of June 2022.
The total number of children in temporary accommodation – a measure which was first recorded in 2004 – was 138,930 as of the end of June this year.
Shelter said its frontline services are “dealing with the grim reality of rising homelessness every day from supporting families crammed into a one-room B&B with mouldy walls and bed bugs, to providing emergency assistance to people faced with a night on the streets”.
It has launched an appeal calling on the public to help through donations for people experiencing homelessness this winter.
A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. That’s why we are spending £2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, including making £1 billion available so councils can give financial support for people to find a new home and move out of temporary accommodation.
“Temporary accommodation is an important way of making sure no family is without a roof over their head, but councils must ensure it is temporary and suitable for families, who have a right to appeal if it doesn’t meet their household’s needs.
“Through our Rough Sleeping Strategy, we will continue to work to end rough sleeping completely.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub