Homelessness in the UK – Were we misled?

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Recently, the Department of Communities and Local Government have been accused of providing misleading data regarding homelessness in the UK. They allegedly claimed that homelessness was less than half its peak in 2003.

However, as The Guardian reports, the UK Statistics Authority questioned the Government’s reports because their figures seemingly only referred to the statutory definition of homelessness – a relatively narrow term covering homeless people local authorities are obliged to assist – not those given assistance under homelessness prevention and relief schemes.

A Freedom of Information request was recently sent by Oldrids and Downtown, a hallway furniture provider, to gauge how many domestic properties each council was responsible for and how many homes were standing empty.

Responses were sent between December 2016 and January 2017. This information has been utilised to compare with homelessness figures from  homeless.org.uk to paint a true picture of housing and homelessness in the UK.

New insights include:

UK councils with people sleeping rough and vacant council-owned properties

  • Derby has 21 people sleeping rough. The council has 106 domestic properties, out of 13,132, standing empty. According to the council, of those 106 properties there are 22 temp held voids and 84 active voids.
  • Brighton & Hove has 144 people sleeping rough – but 100 domestic properties standing empty, of the 11,548 they own.
  • Manchester has 78 people sleeping rough. The council owns 63,265 domestic properties, 286 of which are standing vacant. Of these 286, 162 are vacant for demolition, leaving 124 properties available.
  • Reading council has 22 people sleeping rough. The council owns 6,875 domestic properties, 64 of which are standing empty.

UK councils with no houses standing empty

  • City of London council has 3,150 council-owned domestic properties, none of which are standing empty. There are 50 people sleeping rough in the City of London.
  • Salford council has 1,235 council-owned domestic properties, none of which are standing empty. There are 26 people sleeping rough in Salford.
  • West Berkshire council has 26 council-owned domestic properties, none of which are standing empty. There are 14 people sleeping rough in West Berkshire.

Councils with no rough sleepers

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