Number of homeless families in Redbridge rising as benefits cuts bite, warns charity

The number of homeless people in Redbridge is going up as part of a “rising tide” of homelessness across London, a charity has warned.

Figures obtained by housing charity Crisis show that 427 households in the borough were classed as homeless and in priority need in the last financial year.

An additional 124 households were “intentionally” homeless and a priority and 157 were homeless but not a priority – bringing the total to 708.

It is a six per cent increase on the previous year, when 669 households were classified as homeless.

But the real number of homeless people in Redbridge could be far higher, as the figures only include official “acceptances” by the council and they do not record people from other areas living on the streets or people who have not gone to the council for help.

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Redbridge Council looks at factors including children, pregnancy, old age and illness to decide how to house people.

But the borough’s social housing stock is not keeping up with demand, leaving thousands of families in the limbo of temporary accommodation.

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In the 2012/13 financial year, 2,113 households were put into emergency accommodation to stop them ending up on the street.

The majority were housed in homes leased from the private sector or private landlords, some in bed and breakfasts and others in hostels.

As the Recorder reported last month, temporary accommodation cost the council a massive £26million last year alone.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said affordable homes must be built urgently to combat the impact of changes to housing benefit, including the so-called “bedroom tax”, where money is deducted from benefit payments if claimants are deemed to have a spare bedroom.

Mrs Morphy said: “These figures are a tragedy for the tens of thousands of people made homeless during the last year, but they are bad for us all.

“It makes more sense and is more cost-effective to help people stay in their homes than spend far more money on temporary accommodation or support once people become homeless.

“With more cuts to housing benefit kicking in we can sadly only expect things to get worse.”

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