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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.