23/12/2018 09:12 GMT | Updated 23/12/2018 12:28 GMT

Thousands Sleeping Rough In Cars As Homelessness Soars To Record High

The scale of homelessness was 13% higher last year compared to 2012.

The Independent
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Homelessness has reached a record high with more than 170,000 families and individuals experiencing destitution, according to a report by the Crisis charity.

The study indicates that the amount of people sleeping rough or in tents, cars and public transport has doubled since 2012.

UK homelessness was 13% higher last year compared to 2012, with an increase seen every year in between, according to the research published on Sunday.

The charity released the statistics as it prepares to open up centres to assist homeless people with food, healthcare and advice on housing and employment, this festive season.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for people who are homeless. While others are celebrating with family and friends, homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe and warm.

“While rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness, for every person on our streets there are another 12 families or individuals experiencing other terrible situations like sofa-surfing and living in cramped B&Bs.”

The majority are sofa-surfing or living in hostels, but 12,300 were sleeping rough, nearly 12,000 in vehicles and tents and almost 21,000 in “unsuitable” temporary accommodation, Crisis reports.

Over five years in Great Britain, these types of precarious living are believed to have increased by around 100%.

The report indicates that around 170,800 households – a lone person or a group living at the same address such as a squat – are experiencing the most dire forms of homelessness compared to 151,600 in 2012.

Carried out by Heriot-Watt University, the study also gives an insight into the diversity of the problem, saying there are 4,200 people aged 65-plus and 38,000 under 25s who are homeless.

It was published after official statistics showed nearly 600 homeless people died last year, a rise of almost a quarter over five years.

On average they were dying at the age of 44 – a life expectancy nearly half that for people in stable housing – because of high rates of suicide, drug poisonings and alcohol-related issues.

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Crisis is calling on governments to tackle the root causes of homelessness, which it attributes to a lack of social housing, welfare payments failing to cover private rents and a lack of homelessness prevention schemes.

This comes as it recently emerged that a quarter of all prisoners released last Christmas were left homeless, sleeping rough or in unsettled accommodation. 

Just under half of the 5,860 offenders let out in December 2017 were housed by the state, with a total of 243 people left to sleep on the streets.

A further 625 were classified as homeless and 683 were in other “unsettled accommodation”, a parliamentary question by Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon has revealed. 

On Wednesday, HuffPost UK revealed that 43-year-old Hungarian national Gyula Remes, a homeless man, collapsed and was found dying next to an entrance to the Houses of Parliament.

Jamie Leigh, a friend, told HuffPost UK: “This shouldn’t happen in our country.

“I blame Theresa May. People just walk past us and they are supposed to be going into that building to change the world that we live in.”