Tag Archives: Shelter UK

Shelter Press Notice And Comment: Grenfell Six Months On

Shelter UK

Shelter UK

Interview notice

Shelter spokespeople are available for interview on Thursday 14 December, six months on from Grenfell to discuss:

  • Current issues for survivors seen by Shelter advisers, including: concerns about moving into temporary accommodation, unclear rehousing processes and lack of communication, the need for greater mental health provision, worries about living in the shadow of the tower
  • That Kensington and Chelsea council needs to focus on winning back the trust of residents, alongside rehousing them
  • The need to address wider problems highlighted by Grenfell, including a lack of affordable housing, the powerlessness of people in council homes, and whether there has been a breakdown in trust between those in social housing and their landlords

Shelter comment

Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, said: “Six months on from the horror of Grenfell and there is still much to be done to aid the survivors and to ensure that nothing like it can ever happen again.

“We have seen first-hand the trauma survivors face and the scale of the challenge in rehousing them. The priority for the council must remain plugging the huge gaps in affordable housing so they can rehouse families as quickly as possible, while also ensuring survivors are free to reject homes if they aren’t right for them.

“At the same time we mustn’t ignore the wider issues brought to light by Grenfell and the breakdown in trust between those living in social housing and those meant to protect them. We need to address problems like the lack of social housing, the conditions people live in and the powerlessness that some social tenants feel or we’ll fail those desperate for change in the wake of this tragedy.”

ENDS

 

Contact: Shelter press office, 0207 505 2162 or 07850901142 (out of hours)

128,000 Children In Britain Will Be Homeless On Christmas Day

Shelter uncovers heart-breaking experiences of homeless children told in their own words

Shelter UK

Shelter UK

A shocking 128,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless and in temporary accommodation this Christmas, a new report by Shelter reveals today.

One in every 111 children is currently homeless, and with the country still at the mercy of a worsening housing crisis, 2017 has seen the highest numbers of homeless children in a decade.

At least 140 families become homeless every day, and in the last year alone, 61% of families helped by Shelter’s frontline services were homeless or on the brink of losing their home. In response to such huge demand, the charity is calling on the public to help fund its frontline advisers by supporting its urgent Christmas appeal.

To expose the devastating reality of homelessness, Shelter carried out in-depth interviews with children and their parents living in emergency B&Bs and hostels. This is widely considered the worst type of temporary accommodation. In the unique investigation:

  • Every family lived in a single room which significantly disrupts the children’s ability to play, do homework and carry out any kind of daily routine
  • A quarter of families had no access to a kitchen at all, and the rest had to make do with shared facilities. Struggling to cook meals, more than half of parents said they rely on expensive and unhealthy takeaways. And two-thirds had to eat family meals on the bed or floor of their room
  • Half of families had to share toilet and bathroom facilities with other households, often with filthy conditions and unlockable doors, meaning strangers could walk in at any moment
  • More than a third of parents had to share a bed with their children. Three quarters say bedtimes have become difficult and half say their children are more tired

In England, where the highest number of families are placed into B&Bs, 45% stay beyond the six-week legal limit. The charity’s findings lay bare the psychological turmoil experienced by families living in these cramped conditions for often long periods of time, including:

  • Three quarters of parents felt their children’s mental health had been badly affected. One parent said her daughter had become suicidal since living in the hostel
  • Half of parents reported that their children’s physical health had also worsened, with incidents of bed bug infestations, and broken heating causing children to fall ill
  • Children spoke about feeling anxious, afraid and ashamed. Several children described school as a respite. For one it was the only place he felt happy, another felt stressed at the thought of returning to her accommodation at the end of the school day
  • Children also talked about their school work suffering because of long journeys to school each day, poor and broken sleep, and having no space or quiet-time to do their homework

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s a national scandal that the number of homeless children in Britain has risen every year for the last decade. No child should have to spend Christmas without a home – let alone 128,000 children.

“Many of us will spend Christmas day enjoying all of the festive traditions we cherish, but sadly it’ll be a different story for the children hidden away in cramped B&Bs or hostel rooms. Imagine living in a noisy strange place full of people you don’t know, and waking up exhausted from having no choice but to share a bed with your siblings or parents.

“That’s why our frontline advisers will continue to work tirelessly, including on Christmas day, to help more families fighting homelessness. But we can’t do this alone. We’re asking people to help a homeless family and make giving to Shelter their new Christmas tradition.”

Case study: Twins Ellie and Amy, aged 15, are currently homeless and living in temporary accommodation. Until a few weeks ago they were living in a tiny hotel room which they shared with the rest of their family. They had no access to a kitchen and only shared bathroom facilities, the twins also had to share a bed.

Amy said: “We’re living in a B&B. It’s a small room with five people living in it. It’s got one double bed and one single bed. It’s not even a proper bed…it’s a camp bed. Three people sleep in the double bed with one person at the bottom and two people at the top. And two in the single bed. I sleep next to my brother, he kicks. My mum talks in her sleep.

“There’s a tiny toilet with a shower but my brother doesn’t like showers because he’s autistic so he has to bath in a bucket. He stands in it and mum tips a cup over him. He screams if you try and put him in the shower.”

Ellie said: “It’s hard to concentrate at school because there’s the worry about coming home. It’s just stressful. There’s nowhere we can relax or get any privacy. Before it was much better. We had our own home right near school and right near our friends. We all had our own rooms and a cooker and a fridge. We could eat proper meals. I just want it to be like it was before.”

To support Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.

ENDS

Shelter Comment On Annual Housebulding Figures

Shelter comment on annual housing supply figures (2016/17)

  • There were 217,350 additional dwellings between 2016/2017, and increase of 15% on last year. (DCLG)
  • However, according to government statistics out last week, the total number of affordable homes built in England last year was 41,530, well below the average over the past ten years. This means that only 19% of new properties announced today are classed as affordable. (DCLG)
  • The biggest changes in supply were seen via conversions (splitting homes to make more units) and change of use (conversions from offices to flats for example), at 19% and 22% respectively. Worryingly, these dwellings have no quality assurance or affordable housing obligation.
  • Shelter say we need to build at least 250,000 new homes a year, 125,000 of which should be genuinely affordable. Affordable homes should take up no more than 1/3 of local people’s income.

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “It’s good to see the Prime Minister shedding light on housebuilding and new statistics showing some increase in new homes, however the numbers are still well short of the government’s own targets and we should be crystal clear that not even a fifth of these are affordable.

“With hundreds of thousands of people homeless this Christmas and those in need of affordable homes going up all the time, owing to a crippling combination of soaring rents and welfare cuts, these numbers fall woefully short.

“If the government is serious about tackling our housing crisis and helping the millions of families on lower incomes in the upcoming budget then sticking plasters will not be enough – it must urgently prioritise building homes which are genuinely affordable for ordinary people to rent or buy.”

Shelter Comment On Annual Affordable Housing Figures

Shelter (Logo)

Shelter (Logo)

Shelter comment on annual affordable housing figures

  • Almost two thirds of local authorities built no affordable housing last year.
  • Last year recorded the lowest number of social rented homes built in 71 years, at only 5,380. (See chart below. Source, DCLG)
  • The total number of affordable homes built in England last year was 41,530, well below the average over the past ten years of 51,000. (DCLG)

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “It’s positive to see an increase in affordable housebuilding, however we’re starting at an extremely low base and the gap between the amount we need and what is being delivered is widening.

“With rents sky high and more than 250,000 people homeless in England, it’s clear to see just how bad our affordable housing shortage has become. This is largely due to handing near total control of our housebuilding to big developers who have little appetite for building affordable homes.

Housing Chart

Housing Chart

“The government has a real opportunity to set things right in the upcoming Budget, it can start by reducing the mammoth cost of land and closing loopholes which are draining the country of the affordable homes families are crying out for.

“It’s unacceptable that we’re building the lowest number of social homes since the Second World War, just as homelessness reaches 250,000 in England.”

 

ENDS

*NB from 1946-91 all house building by LA’s and HA included; 1991 onwards only social rents included – does not include affordable rent, and intermediate affordable

What does the government mean by “affordable housing”?

  • The government definition of “affordable housing” is any housing provided at least 20% below the standard market rate in that area. This could include:
    • Social rented housing – low rent, secure housing prioritised by need
    • Affordable rent housing – higher rent, less secure housing prioritised by need
    • Shared ownership – housing that you buy part of and rent part of
    • Intermediate rent homes – 80% market rate housing
  • Shelter thinks genuinely affordable housing should cost you no more than a third of your income, whether in rent or for a mortgage. We need to be building at least 250,000 homes a year overall – 125,000 of these should be genuinely affordable.

What is the “viability loophole”?

  • This is a mechanism used by housing developers to get out of building affordable housing.
  • Our new research found that this led to the loss of 2,500 affordable homes in just nine cities last year.
  • For more detail see our press release here and full report here. (We have infographics and an explainer video available on request.)

More Than 300,000 People In Britain Homeless Today

Shelter (Logo)

Shelter (Logo)

The number of people recorded as homeless has reached a staggering 307,000 – more than the entire population of Newcastle – a shocking new report by Shelter reveals today.

In the most extensive review of its kind, the housing charity combined official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures. This showed the number of homeless people in Britain has increased by 13,000 in a year. However, as government records are not definitive the true figure of homelessness is likely to be even higher.

Shelter has launched an urgent appeal in response to this mounting crisis, calling on the public to support its frontline advisers as they work tirelessly to help people to stay in their home or find a new one.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless. Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children. And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for.

“On a daily basis, we speak to hundreds of people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness. A trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts.

“As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline services remains absolutely critical. We will do all we can to make sure no-one is left to fight homelessness on their own. But we cannot achieve this alone; we urgently need the public’s support to be there for everyone who needs us right now.”

The charity’s report, ‘Far from alone: Homelessness in Britain in 2017’ also shows just how hard it can be to escape homelessness amid a drought of affordable homes and welfare reforms, such as the freeze on housing benefit and recent roll-out of Universal Credit.

In England, where more people are affected, over a third of those living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time.

One in every 200 people in England is currently homeless. However, to identify where the epidemic is most acute, the charity mapped the top 50 hotspots with the highest levels of homelessness in the country.

Newham topped the list where 1 in every 25 people are homeless. This was closely followed by Haringey (1 in 29), Westminster (1 in 31), and Enfield (1 in 33). But it is not just in the capital where the picture is alarmingly bleak. Areas such as Luton, where 1 in 52 people are homeless, Birmingham (1 in 88) and Manchester (1 in 154) also feature in the top 50.

Case study: Victoria, 72, from London, is living in temporary accommodation after being made homeless because her landlord decided to sell her privately rented home, and she couldn’t find anywhere else to go.

Victoria said: “After getting my eviction notice I desperately tried to find another place to rent but to no avail. I found landlords either didn’t want to let to someone on housing benefit, even though I’ve always paid my rent, or the properties were simply too expensive for me.

“Presenting myself as homeless was in itself humiliating and scary. You’re left sitting around for hours, waiting to find out if you’ll have a place to stay that night. I’m in temporary accommodation now. I spend every day dealing with letting agents, searching for a place to rent, or just some way out of here. If I get the chance to visit a friend’s house it’s so hard to come back to this place afterwards, and leave behind the warm environment a of a real home.

“The whole thing makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. I’ve moved around a lot, and yet for the first time in my life I feel like I have no control over my situation. I’m not easily scared, but the fear is terrible – you just don’t know where you are doing to end up. I’m in a constant state of anxiety and stress. I hope that finally with Shelter’s help, I might one day find a safe place to call home again.”

To support Shelter’s urgent appeal please visit www.shelter.org.uk or text SHELTER to 70080 to donate £3.

 

ENDS

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