Chart of the day: homelessness surges

Number of homeless families increases to 48,510, the biggest rise for nine years.

While the right-wing press frets that a mansion tax may force some people to sell their £2m homes, what of those who don't have one at all? New figures out today show that the number of households officially classed as homeless rose by 14 per cent to 48,510 in 2011, the biggest rise for nine years. The data, which includes those in temporary accommodation, also reveals that 69,460 children or expected children are in homeless households.

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Leslie Morphy, the chief executive of Crisis, said:

Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.

The government is understandably keen to point out that homelessness remains lower than for 28 of the last 30 years. But with unemployment unlikely to have peaked and the full force of the Housing Benefit cap yet to be felt, worse is likely to come.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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