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Over 250,000 are homeless in England, UK harity warns

4 December 2016 16:13

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British charities have warned that the number of homeless people in the UK is rapidly rising and thousands risk losing their lives as winter approaches.

More than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England, while about 30,000 lack a home in Scotland, has according to researchers from charity Shelter, which used data from four sets of official 2016 statistics.

The charity insists the overall figure in England, 254,514, is a “robust lower-end estimate.”

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, warned the housing crisis was “tightening its grip” on the UK.

“Hundreds of thousands of people will face the trauma of waking up homeless this Christmas,” he said.

“Decades in the making, this is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes and cuts to welfare support.”

Homelessness is at its highest rates in central London, with as many as one in 25 without a home in Westminster and one in 27 with nowhere to live in Newham, the new analysis shows.

Three homeless people have died only in the last ten days in Manchester and Birmingham due to cold and related incidents.

This is amid reports that homeless numbers have doubled over the past year.

Howard Sinclair, the chief executive of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, says the problem is “much, much higher than it was even three years ago.”

“Rough sleeping is increasing year-on-year – and so are the needs of those people, the complex issues, the range of problems,” he says.

The housing crisis, the reduction of benefits – especially to younger people – and austerity cuts hitting local councils, charities and mental health services are creating the “perfect storm” in human misery, says Sinclair.

Britain has been pushing painful austerity measures since 2010 to cap its budget deficit, targeting key benefits helping the homeless.

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