32% of all newly homeless households in England are in London, according to new government figures (PDF). And the number is rising.
In the year to March 2015, there were 17,530 'acceptances' by London councils — an 'acceptance' is where a council accepts it has a legal duty towards a household that has become homeless through no fault of its own and is in need, e.g., a family with children. That number is up from 17,030 acceptances in the year to March 2014, an increase of 3%. The rate of newly accepted homelessness in the capital is 1.26 per 1,000 households, compared with 0.47 in the rest of the country.
The most common reason for people becoming homeless in London is a previous tenancy ending. In the last quarter of 2014-15, 39% of acceptances were because of this — up from a third the year before. On 31 March 2015, a total of 48,240 households were living in temporary accommodation in London, 11% up from the same date in 2014. 2,950 were living in B&Bs, which isn't at all like the chichi place you spent a dirty weekend in on the coast last summer. For a look at the reality, see the stories of these three women we published earlier in the year.
Some councils are attempting to deal with the rising numbers of homelessness in ways that don't involve paying thousands to private landlords in London and around the country, or B&B and hostel owners. Croydon Council is working with Real Lettings to buy homes to let to homeless individuals and families, and we've already told you about Lewisham's 'pop-up homes' initiative. But more needs to be done. Darren Johnson, Green London Assembly Member, said:
"Too many Londoners have to cope with the highest rents and some of the weakest tenancy protections in Europe. The Mayor urgently needs to join the lobby for continental-style rent controls, secure more money for social housing and oppose any further cuts to housing benefit. Cuts to housing benefit and homeless services have only made this worse, leaving too many people languishing in B&Bs."