Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recession breeds homelessness in UK

Source: Press TV

New figures have revealed that the number of rough sleepers in Britain is spiraling as well as a new type of homelessness emerging out of recession.

The umbrella group Homeless Link said that of 200 homeless organizations surveyed, 66 percent reported a rise in the number of rough sleepers in their area across the UK, Channel 4 News reported.

Peter Mansfield Clark, manager of a direct access hostel in Crawley, said those figures are no surprise.

"In the last 12 months, we've had to turn away just over 1,900 people, and out of 1,900, almost 500 were women," he said.

"And we are having to say to people, 'Sorry. We're full and you've got to stay on the street.' It's a horrendous figure", added the hostel's boss.

Mansfield said he too was witnessing a new, unexpected breed of homeless people looking for help.

"We're getting people who, if you like, are slightly higher up the social scale, who have been working for most of their lives. And things have gone wrong with them since the recession", he said.

A young Briton looks bewildered as he recalls the past six months, during which he went from full-time work and a nice flat, to walking the streets looking for somewhere to stay.

"The work just didn't come through," he says. "It got less and less, so I still had a job but there just wasn't the hours or the amount of days. Not enough to keep me going properly and keep things sweet at home."

When the coalition first came to power it changed the way rough sleeper figures were collated, arguing that it gave a more accurate figure than in the past. So the 2011 official figure for rough sleepers across the country stands at 1,768, the report said.

But, according to Channel 4 News, of 80 frontline homeless organisations two-thirds of them believe that the figures "significantly underestimate" the numbers of people sleeping rough.

It said that 189,000 people were put into temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs, in 2010 to prevent them becoming homeless, up 14 percent on the previous year.

The report also said that last year, 44,160 people were accepted as homeless by councils and put into social housing, up 10 percent on previous year.

Charities are warning that the situation can only get worse - with changes to the benefit system seeing some safety nets slip away.

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