1 In 50 Londoners Homeless Says New Research

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago

Last Updated 03 August 2023

1 In 50 Londoners Homeless Says New Research
A person, apparently homeless in a dark hoodie sat on the end of Millennium Bridge facing St Paul's
The government must do more, right now, says London Councils. iStock/coldsnowstorm

About one in 50 of all Londoners are homeless, says a shocking new report.

London Councils, the cross-party organisation that represents the interests of the 32 London boroughs and the City of London Corporation, claims in its findings — released on 3 August — that the number of homeless residents in temporary accommodation has risen to almost 170,000. That figure includes almost 83,500 children — on average at least one child in every classroom.

In March 2019, that number was 'only' 163,970, and in March of this year was at 166,000 (with 81,000 homeless children), demonstrating just how swiftly the problem is growing. Overall, the number of London households in temporary accommodation is at its highest level since 2005.

A lack of alternative housing, says London Councils, means boroughs are becoming more reliant on B&B accommodation for homeless families (a last resort option). The number of families placed in B&Bs more than doubled between April 2022 and April 2023 — up from 1,543 to 3,242. As for homeless families placed in bed and breakfast accommodation beyond the legal six-week limit — that's up an astounding 781% over the same one-year period.

Brick flats
There's been a 41% reduction in the number of London properties available for private rent since Covid, says London Councils. Image: iStock/MarioGuti

The figures, says London Councils, represent an 'unfolding housing disaster in capital' that is 'increasingly unmanageable', prompted by a worsening shortage of affordable housing, as well as a cost of living crisis. Boroughs are collectively spending £60 million each month on temporary accommodation costs. London Councils is calling on the government to do more to help low-income households, in order to meet mounting financial pressures. Specific measures the government must take, says London Councils, include raising Local Housing Allowance, supporting councils to buy accommodation sold by private landlords, boosting Homelessness Prevention Grant funding, increasing Discretionary Housing Payments, and bringing forward a cross-departmental strategy to reduce homelessness.

Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor of London for Housing and Residential Development, agrees the government must do more. He told Londonist: "Rather than a short-lived stepping stone back into a safe, settled home, Londoners and their children are ending up stuck in unsuitable accommodation for months or even years at a time, lacking the stability, amenities and support they desperately need. Government must urgently step up to invest in affordable and social rented homes for homeless households to move into, alongside increasing standards and regulation."

Copley added that under the current Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the building of more council homes was commenced in London in 2022/23, than any year since the 1970s .

Londonist has reached out to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for a quote.