Industry news

Rough sleeping rises to highest recorded number


ough sleeping in England has increased for the seventh year in a row and now stands at its highest ever recorded level, with critics

saying the true picture is far worse and official figures only represent the tip of the iceberg. Government figures show that in Autumn 2017,

some 4,751 people were rough sleeping in England – a 15 per cent increase over a year ago and a 169 per cent increase since 2010 when the figures first started being recorded. The figures themselves provide a snapshot of

rough sleeping on a single night with about a quarter of rough sleepers being in London. Of the people counted in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures - 653 (14 per cent) were women, 760 were EU nationals from outside the UK, 193 were from outside the EU and 373 (eight per cent) were under 25 years of age. A regional breakdown of the figures showed

annual increases of 18 per cent in London, 39 per cent in the North West and 14 per cent in the rest of England. These increases are likely to make it even more difficult for the Government to deliver on its pledge to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and to eradicate it completely by 2027. Hopefully the about to be implemented Homelessness Reduction Act will make a big dent in those figures, but only time will tell. The figures are a combination of estimates by

most councils based on intelligence from local services, while a minority conduct a physical count of the number of people seen sleeping rough on a single night. They do not include people who are in

hostels and shelters or sofa surfing with their family or friends. There are over 79,000 households housed in temporary accommodation, many thousands of them are families with children.

OUT OF SIGHT A spokeswoman for housing charity Shelter said the figures may be an underestimate. She said: "Rough sleeping figures are particularly difficult to record because many people hide and remain out of sight, meaning that counts often miss those who bed down for the night in derelict buildings rather than the more obvious shop doorways. "But these annual counts, are still a vital source in

assessing rough sleeping trends. It's also crucial to remember that rough sleeping is only the tip of the iceberg and hundreds of thousands more are stuck in temporary accommodation or sofa surfing." Chief executive of Shelter Polly Neate, said: “The

figures expose the worst pain inflicted by our housing crisis. We have failed as a society when so many people are forced to sleep rough. But they are not alone, the scourge of homelessness extends far beyond our streets. Hidden away in emergency B&Bs, temporary bedsits and on friends’ sofas are hundreds of thousands of other homeless people, including families with children. “Most of these people are homeless simply

because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere, a situation made worse by welfare cuts. While the intentions of the Homelessness Reduction Act are good, it cannot fix this crisis. To do that, the government must act to build a new generation of

genuinely affordable homes to rent, as well as ensuring housing benefit is fit for purpose in the short-term.” From April councils will be legally obliged to

provide services to anyone at risk of becoming homeless, not just those with a priority need such as vulnerable people or families with children. However, many rough sleepers are unlikely to be registered as homeless with local councils so this may not be the ready made solution for them.

TASKFORCE A spokesperson for the Housing Ministry said: “To break the homelessness cycle once and for all, we are providing more than £1bn of funding, supporting rough sleepers with the most complex needs through a new Housing First approach and bringing in the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier. “In addition a new cross-government taskforce

supported by a panel of experts will drive forward a new strategy that will make life on the streets a thing of the past.” John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary,

said: “These shameful figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of a Conservative Government. The number of people sleeping rough fell under Labour but has more than doubled since 2010, and is up for the seventh year in a row under the Tories. “This is a direct result of decisions made by

Conservative Ministers: a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, crude cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services, and a refusal to help private renters. A Labour government will end rough sleeping within its first term in office, and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness.” The chief executive of Crisis charity, Jon Sparkes

said: “It is truly a catastrophe that in a country as prosperous as this, more and more people are finding themselves forced to sleep in dangerous and freezing conditions, when we have evidence to show how the situation could be turned around.”

Rent Smart Wales continues its crackdown of landlords

Landlords in Wales who manage their own properties are being reminded that they must submit their licence application to Rent Smart Wales to avoid prosecution. The prompt comes as a number of landlords who have failed to become licensed were prosecuted at Cardiff Magistrates Court. Kowser Chowdhury of Princes Avenue, Roath,

Cardiff was fined £3,600 under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 for carrying out letting and management activities for a number of properties without a licence. Mr Chowdhury completed his registration with

Rent Smart Wales but failed to submit a licence application. He was found guilty in his absence and magistrates also ordered him to pay £692 costs and a victim surcharge of £66.

Cllr Lynda Thorne, Cabinet Member for

Housing and Communities at Cardiff Council, the single licensing authority for Rent Smart Wales, said: "Self-managing landlords in Wales must realise that registering with Rent Smart Wales is not enough to comply with the law. They are also required to pass training and submit a licence application. "Anyone who carries out letting or property

management duties needs a licence. Enforcement powers have been active for some time now and we are tracking down and prosecuting individuals who aren't licensed. "Training can help people to become better

landlords and of course by becoming licensed, landlords will be complying with the law and will avoid prosecution. So it's important for landlords to

complete the registration and licensing process as soon as they can." Two landlords were fined at Cardiff Magistrates

Court for failing to comply with Rent Smart Wales. Vale of Glamorgan landlord Anthony Thomas pleaded guilty to managing his 10 rental properties without a licence and must pay a total of £665 while Lee Jones of Albion Road, Port Talbot also pleaded guilty for failing to register or become licensed and must pay a total of £430. Cllr Thorne added: "A conviction for a

self-managing landlord has serious consequences as a condition of obtaining a licence is that someone is fit and proper to carry out letting and management activities. All those who continue to operate without a licence are putting their future business at risk." | HMM March 2018 | 19

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