Homeless People

Facts, figures and trends

Statutory homelessness

National and Local Context

Nationally, the quarterly number of homelessness acceptances peaked in Q3 2003 at 35,770 before falling to a low of 9,430 in Q4 2009.  The steep fall is likely to have been significantly influenced by the encouragement from central government to local authorities to strengthen their prevention activities.  After 2009 homelessness acceptances show a steady year on year rise.  In the latest quarter the number of acceptances at 14,930 is 58% below the peak (a difference of 20,840), and 58% higher than the low (a difference of 5,500).  Between 1st July and 30th September 2016 acceptances were down 1% on the previous quarter and up 2% on the same quarter last year.  Households accepted as being owed a statutory duty to secure accommodation are those who are unintentionally homeless and in priority need.

Local authorities took action to prevent and relieve homelessness for 52,920 households between 1 July and 30 September 2016, up 3% on 51,300 in the same quarter of 2015

The ending of an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord was the most common reason for the loss of the last settled home in Q3 2016. The end of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) has been an increasingly common cause of loss of last home over the last six years, rising from a low of 1,060 households in Q4 2009 (11% of all cases) to 4,790 in Q3 2016 (32% of cases) – a rise of 3,730. By comparison, the rise in acceptances for all other reasons between Q4 2009 and Q3 2016 was 1,770. This indicates that affordability is an increasingly significant issue, as more households facing the end of a private tenancy are unable to find an alternative without assistance. The increase in the end of tenancies is also related to the expansion of the private rented sector, which has doubled in size (since 2002).

The Government’s statistical release on homelessness data can be found at here.

Homelessness acceptances increased only slightly by 1.85% between 2014/15 and 2015/16 in Central Bedfordshire, whilst the number of homelessness decisions fell by 3.5%.  Current indications for 2016/17 are that the number of decisions is likely to increase slightly whilst homelessness acceptances are likely to be lower than 2015/16.  These figures have to be viewed in the context of the homelessness prevention figures and the increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation. 

Over the past four financial years the number of cases where homelessness has been prevented has reduced year on year, both for those where households are rehoused and for those who have remained in their current home.  High private sector rents in Central Bedfordshire have contributed to the lack of available rehousing options.

  2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16
Table 1: Homelessness Figures for Central Bedfordshire Council. Source: data report from CBC’s database QL
Housing Advice Visits 1,841 2,206 2,059 1,696
Statutory Homelessness Decisions 176 160 225 217
Statutory Homelessness Acceptances 42 61 162 165
Cases where homelessness prevented 446 372 292 267

Approaches from households over the past year 2016/17 indicate that the national trend in the increase in homeless due to the ending of Assured Shorthold tenancies is mirrored in Central Bedfordshire.  Figures for 2015/16 show the trend developing however gaps in data recording mean that the data is not wholly conclusive.

Improvements to data recording has been undertaken in 2016/17 to ensure that data submitted to the Government through the P1E return is complete and accurate and matches other data reported through the departmental performance framework. Additionally improvements implemented in January 2017 will give more information about the reasons for the ending of Assured Shorthold tenancies for example where the Landlord is selling the property or no longer wishes to rent to households receiving benefits.

Reason for Loss of Last Settled Home in CBC 2015 - 16
Table 2: Reason for Loss of Last Settled Home in CBC.Source: data report from CBC’s database QL
Parents no longer willing to accommodate    39
Relatives Friends no longer willing to accommodate 15
Non violent relationship  breakdown 8
Violent relationship breakdown( partner) 14
Violent relationship breakdown (associated persons) 3
Other Violence 1
Other harassment 1
Mortgage arrears 4
Arrears private dwelling 4
Termination of Assured Shorthold Tenancy        38
Loss of accommodation ( not Assured Shorthold Tenancy) 4
Request to leave NASS accommodation 1
Left prison or remand 1
Left hospital 4
Left other institution 1
Left HM forces 1
Other reason 13
Main reason not stated 2
Unknown/not recorded in QL 11
Total 165

As the Homelessness Reduction bill passes through the parliamentary process, Local Authorities are being consulted over proposed changes to Government data collection.  The proposed “duty to prevent homelessness” will present a number of challenges for Local Authorities in the way that they currently assess homelessness applications. 

Resources and Meeting Gaps

In preparation for the new prevention duties, Central Bedfordshire Council has reviewed its offer to private sector landlords through the “Lets Rent” scheme. The revised scheme aims to increase access to the private rented sector for households threatened with homelessness. A Landlord consultation event is planned in the spring of 2017, in advance of the re-launch of the scheme.  Executive approval is anticipated for August 2017.

Resources for prevention activity have been increased for 2017/18 to assist with reducing the costs for temporary accommodation and proposals for a social lettings agency are being drafted for consideration by Executive by the end of 2017. 

The Homelessness Reduction bill also proposes to place a duty on specified public authorities to notify the Local Housing Authority of those receiving services who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.  Improved referral pathways have already been established through a hospital discharge protocol with the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and a draft discharge protocol is due for sign off by the end of March with East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) in respect of those being discharged from in-patient mental health services.. 

Tenancy sustainment is a key tool to prevent homelessness.  Bromford floating support service was brought in-house in December 2015 and is now structured within the newly developed independent Living team within the Housing Service.  There are plans to increase resources to help sustain tenancies and consequently help prevent homelessness as a result of tenancy failure across all tenures and in all sectors. The plan being developed for 2017 will create three complimentary service teams within Housing Services; Solutions, Independent Living and Intensive property Management.

A review of the Council’s Housing Allocation Scheme is currently being progressed in response to recent caselaw and a review of rehousing outcomes for households placed in temporary accommodation.  In advance of any proposals to change the Scheme, the 2016/17 annual lettings plan will be reviewed in March 2017.  The Annual Lettings plan sets lettings quota’s for households in housing need, including vulnerable groups such as care Leavers and those needing to move on from supported housing. The 2017/18 annual lettings plan will be published in June 2017.

Last updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017