Homelessness surges by 25% as the cuts bite

Demand for affordable housing is rising but supply is falling.

Amid the national euphoria induced by the Olympics, here's a grim reminder of the problems that remain. New figures out today show that homelessness has increased by 25 per cent over the last three years. According to data providers SSentif, 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless in 2011/12, up from 40,020 in 2009/10. Over the same period, spending on tackling homelessness fell from £213.7m to £199.8m. Correlation does not equal causation, of course, but it seems probable that the two trends are related. In Birmingham, for instance, where homelessness increased by 25 per cent, spending was reduced from £7.8 million to £5.5 million, a cut of 29 per cent. Although housing minister Grant Shapps has previously sought to deny it, the government's own figures show that social house completions fell by 97 per cent last year, with affordable housing down by 68 per cent. The problem is simple: demand is rising but supply is falling.

The largest rise in homelessness was in the east of England, with the number of cases rising from 3,660 in 2009/10 to 5,270 in 2011/12 - a 44 per cent increase. It's a similar story across the rest of the country. Homelessness is up by 34 per cent in London (from 9,460 to 12,720) and by 38 per cent in the south east (from 3,870 to 5,320). The only region to experience a fall in homelessness was the north east, where the number of households classed as homeless fell by 10 per cent from 2,010 to 1,800.

The government is understandably keen to point out that homelessness remains lower than for 28 of the last 30 years. But with unemployment expected to rise in the coming months and the full force of the Housing Benefit cap yet to be felt, today's figures are likely a harbinger of worse to come.

New figures show that 50,290 families and individuals were classed as homeless in 2011/12, up from 40,020 in 2009/10. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

@Simon_Cullen via Twitter
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All 27 things wrong with today’s Daily Mail front cover

Where do I even start?

Hello. Have you seen today’s Daily Mail cover? It is wrong. Very wrong. So wrong that if you have seen today’s Daily Mail cover, you no doubt immediately turned to the person nearest to you to ask: “Have you seen today’s Daily Mail cover? It is wrong.”

But just how wrong is the wrong Mail cover? Let me count the ways.

  1. Why does it say “web” and not “the web”?
  2. Perhaps they were looking on a spider’s web and to be honest that makes more sense because
  3. How does it take TWO MINUTES to use a search engine to find out that cars can kill people?
  4. Are the Mail team like your Year 8 Geography teacher, stuck in an infinite loop of typing G o o g l e . c o m into the Google search bar, the search bar that they could’ve just used to search for the thing they want?
  5. And then when they finally typed G o o g l e . c o m, did they laboriously fill in their search term and drag the cursor to click “Search” instead of just pressing Enter?
  6. The Daily Mail just won Newspaper of the Year at the Press Awards
  7. Are the Daily Mail – Newspaper of the Year – saying that Google should be banned?
  8. If so, do they think we should ban libraries, primary education, and the written word?
  9. Sadly, we know the answer to this
  10. Google – the greatest source of information in the history of human civilisation – is not a friend to terrorists; it is a friend to teachers, doctors, students, journalists, and teenage girls who aren’t quite sure how to put a tampon in for the first time
  11. Upon first look, this cover seemed so obviously, very clearly fake
  12. Yet it’s not fake
  13. It’s real
  14. More than Google, the Mail are aiding terrorists by pointing out how to find “manuals” online
  15. While subsets of Google (most notably AdSense) can be legitimately criticised for profiting from terrorism, the Mail is specifically going at Google dot com
  16. Again, do they want to ban Google dot com?
  17. Do they want to ban cars?
  18. Do they want to ban search results about cars?
  19. Because if so, where will that one guy from primary school get his latest profile picture from?
  20. Are they suggesting we use Bing?
  21. Why are they, once again, focusing on the perpetrator instead of the victims?
  22. The Mail is 65p
  23. It is hard to believe that there is a single person alive, Mail reader or not, that can agree with this headline
  24. Three people wrote this article
  25. Three people took two minutes to find out cars can drive into people
  26. Trees had to die for this to be printed
  27. It is the front cover of the Mail

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.