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Homelessness ‘explosion’ threatens UK

A new survey shows the number of homeless people is on the rise across the UK amid massive cuts facing charities that provide facilities for the homeless.

The survey commissioned by the charity Homeless Link has found that hundreds of organizations and charities whose jobs are to provide support for homeless people are threatened by massive reductions in funding or total closure as a result of spending cuts introduced by central government or local councils.

The survey shows that a quarter of 44,000 hotel beds in England could be vanished within months due to the proposed £1.6 billion cut in funding, which would result in a sharp rise in visible homelessness.

The charity Homeless Link warns that “unjustifiable” spending cuts could undermine progress in tackling homelessness in 40 percent of local authorities.

The survey also predicts a significant increase in rough sleeping, mental illness, anti-social behavior and crime, which will add to the already stretched National Health Service’s costs for its addiction treatment services, child protection teams, and the criminal justice system.

“Even at current levels nearly half of local housing allowance claimants are already making up a shortfall of almost £100 a month to meet their rent”, said Campbell Robb, the chief executive of the housing and homelessness charity Shelter.

Official figures for homelessness released at the end of 2010, before the welfare cuts were imposed, revealed that 11,840 applications were accepted for homeless support between July and September 2010, a 14 percent increase on the same period in 2009. A rising trend was shown for the first time since 2003.

The true scale of homelessness is far worse, as the official statistics exclude most single homeless people.

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