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Homelessness services are shrinking, losing beds, staff and resources at the same time as the number of homeless people is rocketing, a new report has shown.
There are 4,000 fewer beds available to homeless people today than there were in 2010 – a fall of nine per cent, according to research by Homeless Link, the umbrella body for homelessness services in England.
There are almost one in six fewer people full-time homeless support workers than there were in 2010, 133 homeless services have closed down, and nearly half of services lost funding last year, receiving 17 per cent less money on average.
Meanwhile, the number of homeless households is up by a third and almost a third more people are sleeping rough than in 2010.
And the situation looks set to worsen - many councils have reported cuts of 25–40 per cent to housing-related support budgets in the last six months, according to Homeless Link research.
The report also highlighted the harm that homelessness causes to individuals” mental and physical health, and to society as a whole. Of those experiencing homelessness, the data showed that 72 per cent have mental health issues, 56 per cent long term physical health needs and only six per cent are in employment – far worse than in the general population.
But despite these problems, many charities report that budget cuts are eroding their ability to support clients into homes and employment, harming society as well as individuals.
In 2012, more than half of services whose funding had been cut believed it resulted in increased rough sleeping (65 per cent) and anti-social behaviour (56 per cent).
The research also shows that one in three people has experienced homelessness or knows someone who has, with eight out of 10 of those polled believing councils should do more to help those encountering homelessness.
Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: “Whilst we understand the pressure councils are under, we also know that investment in tackling homelessness is in everyone’s interest and is backed by the public.”
“Homelessness services play a vital role in helping people rebuild their lives, but can only do so if they continue to receive sustainable long-term funding.”