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by administrator @, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 15:34

Crisis has responded to alarming new Government statistics showing that the number of people approaching their council as homeless is 23% higher than the same time last year, while the proportion being accepted as homeless has fallen by two per cent.

The figures show that during the first quarter of 2011, 26,400 applied to local authorities as homeless compared to 21,410 during the same period last year, an increase of 23%. The proportion considered to be owed a main homelessness duty fell from 45% to 43% over the same period.

Even with a falling proportion of applicants being accepted as homeless, during the 2010/11 financial year the total number of acceptances also rose to 44,160, from 40,020 in 2009/10 - an increase of 10 per cent and the first financial year rise since 2003/04.

Crisis is also concerned that the statistics show that the number of people becoming homeless because of the ending of a private tenancy is rising and a rise in the number of households being placed in B&B accommodation.

During the first quarter of 2011, 15% of applications accepted were because of the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy, compared with 13% during Q1 of 2010 and 11% during Q1 of 2009. During the first quarter of 2011, 2,780 households where placed in B&B accommodation compared to 2,050 for the same period last year, a rise of 36%.

These rises in homelessness come before the cuts that the Government is making to Housing Benefit. These figures go until March 2011, but new claimants of Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit in the Private Rented Sector) have only been affected since April this year, and existing claimants will not start to be affected until January 2012.

Crisis Chief Executive, Leslie Morphy said: "The Government's own figures show that homelessness is on the rise once more, yet instead of redoubling their efforts to end this scandal, minsters are cutting housing benefit and weakening homeless people's rights to housing.

"It is vital that the Government changes course and prioritises the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly as the impact of the cuts to Housing Benefit is still to come. It is also important to remember that official homelessness statistics don't tell the whole story, with single homeless people often not being given the opportunity to apply as homeless, or having their applications rejected."

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