One in four families at risk of homelessness in England are employed

One in four households in England who are homeless or under the threat of homelessness in 2018 were in paid employment at the time, an Observer study of government figures has found.

One in four families at risk of homelessness in England are employed

Within data published last week, it was revealed that of over 260,000 households facing homelessness, more than 25% of applications for council support were submitted by a family member who was in paid employment.

The study found that in some areas, the number of working households facing homelessness was significantly higher.

After the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April 2018, councils in England are bound to take preventative measures where households are at risk of homelessness and must relieve it when it occurs.

The data has revealed that of the 42 households Rutland Council accepted a prevention or relief duty, just over half were employed. Similarly, Newham Council in east London accepted homelessness duties for 1,802 households where over 40% were in paid employment.

The figures revealed that households with employed inhabitants made up 31% of cases in south-east England, 30% in London and the East of England. This is compared to only 17% in the north-east where cheaper housing is more prevalent.

On the whole, councils in England recorded 118,700 households as homeless and a further 145,020 as being under the immediate threat of homelessness in 2018-19. Of those, 71,210 applications for council support were made by a household member who was in paid employment.

The figures are based on the household member who applied for support – so if the applicant was unemployed but another household member was in work, the data will not pick this up.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Despite working all the hours they can, too many people have been pushed into the housing emergency by expensive private rents, punishing housing benefit cuts and a chronic lack of social homes. The only way politicians can fix this crisis is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years. And in the meantime, the government must urgently increase housing benefit so that people on low incomes can access at least the bottom third of the private rental market.”

Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “It’s shocking that so many working households face losing their home. It’s the result of a crisis of low pay and insecure work. Britain needs a real pay rise to £10 per hour. We need cuts to housing benefit reversed. And we need zero-hours contracts banned once and for all.”

A government spokesperson added: “Our Homelessness Reduction Act is helping people earlier so they are not having to experience homelessness in the first place and we have invested £1.2bn into tackling it head-on.”

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