Winter in the UK is harsh. With temperatures regularly dropping below freezing and the risk of extreme weather such as floods increasing, it’s not a time to be outside. Despite this, over a quarter of a million people in the UK have no place to call home. They can’t huddle under a blanket with the central heating on, watching the winter weather take its toll from the comfort of their house, protected by brick walls and layers of insulation.
Instead, they have no idea where they’ll be laying their heads from day to day, and for over 4,000 people, their only option is the cold, hard pavement – with no choice but to bear the brunt of the foul weather head on with no protection.
Homelessness in the UK is a mammoth problem, and yet it’s one so few people know anything about. Muslim Aid, among other homeless charities in the UK, will be working tirelessly this winter to make sure as many lives as possible are saved from the ruins of winter and the destruction it causes, but we can’t do so without your help.
We implore you to make a kind donation to our winter appeal so that we can provide life-saving provisions to homeless people in the UK. If you’re unsure just how vital your donation is, read on to learn some key UK homelessness statistics and to gain a better understanding of what is happening on the streets on Britain.
Firstly, it’s important to decipher the different types of homelessness. Most people think homelessness means a person is sleeping on the street. This is called rough sleeping and it’s the most severe form of homelessness, but it’s not the only type.
In addition to rough sleeping, there is also statutory homelessness. This is when people are placed into temporary housing by their local authority in order to prevent them from being on the streets. This term only applies to those who are vulnerable, such as the elderly, terminally ill people, and young families, because only they are eligible for local authority support.
Those who cannot afford their accommodation costs and who are not entitled to help from their local authority are put into the hidden homelessness category. This is when people have no fixed address and are forced to stay with friends or family, take up residence in a hostel or hotel, or squat. Hidden homelessness is the largest category in the UK.
Overall, there were thought to be more than 268,000 homeless and at risk of being homeless households across England– this figure doesn’t account for Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Paired with the fact that there are likely to be more homeless people than the figures depict in England alone, the true number of homeless people across the United Kingdom is likely to be far, far higher.
Homelessness is a rising trend, with the numbers increasing year on year. The pandemic has caused an anomaly for 2020 because the government implemented emergency measures to get people off the streets, meaning less people were seen sleeping rough compared to previous years, but the issue of homelessness and the threat of it is still very real to hundreds of thousands of people, and there have been increases in certain areas.
In 2019, there were 4,266 rough sleepers in England. In 2020, approximately 2,688 people were sleeping rough. Whilst this is a positive decrease, there was a 6.1% increase in the number of statutory homeless households who were owed relief duty. This means in 2020, just over 149,000 households in England were waiting for their local authority to provide them with accommodation. In addition, more than 119,400 households were identified by local authorities as at risk of being homeless within a 56-day time period. These household are classified as being owed a prevention duty. Both prevention duty and relief duty households fall under the bracket of statutory homelessness.
It’s hard to put a figure on the number of people deemed as being hidden homeless, but they are thought to make up the biggest bulk.
There are many reasons why a person may become homeless. According to recent data, over 31,000 households were on the verge of or actually experiencing homelessness as a direct result of domestic abuse. On top of this, 8,900 people were homeless due to being evicted from their home, whilst over 33,000 were made homeless because of the assured shorthold private rented tenancy.
Those leaving prison are also at risk of being homeless, as are those who are unemployed. Many people also find themselves homeless because their friends and/or family can no longer accommodate them.
Perhaps the most profound homeless statistics are those relating to the health of homeless people. The average age of death for a homeless male is 45 and 43 for a female. Most homeless deaths are preventable.
On top of this, one in three homeless people have been physically assaulted on purpose, resulting in injury and trauma. Their risk of violent abuse is increased 17 times. Some 80% of homeless people have mental health issues, and many of those who suffer from such problems have no access to help. In addition, 75% of the homeless community suffer from physical health problems.
The figures surrounding homelessness in the UK, one of the world’s richest countries, are astonishing, but you can help. More than £2 billion has been cut from homeless related help by the government from 2008-2018, making our work all the more important. Please consider donating to our UK winter appeal so we can help those without a home this winter. Your donation could save a life.