The true scale of homelessness in the UK is almost 10 times worse than official figures suggest, according to a new report from the homeless charity Justlife.
It warns thousands of people are being “forgotten in statistics” after it estimated that at least 51,500 people were living in B&Bs in the year to April 2016 – compared with 5,870 official B&B placements recorded by the government.
It comes after a separate investigation found that 78 homeless people died last winter – an average of at least two a week. Megan Lucero, director of Bureau Local, which surveyed dozens of homeless charities, trawled local press reports and pieced together figures to create a database of homeless deaths, said: “Local journalists and charities are often the only ones recording these deaths.
Christa Maciver, author of the report, said: “We can no longer ignore the tens of thousands of people stuck homeless, hidden and ignored in our cities. This report shows there is so much we don’t know and that we really need to be calculating homelessness more accurately. Very few seem to care about the vulnerable people who end up in B&Bs, hostels and guesthouses. Once they are there they are forgotten and it’s almost like we forget they are people. Their mental and physical health gets worse, and many can end up dead, but because they have a roof over their head – no matter how insecure – they are not counted within homelessness, when they should be. Only if we acknowledge the problem will we really be able to start finding solutions.”
A report commissioned by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) earlier this month estimated more than 100,000 households would be living in B&Bs, hostels and other forms of temporary housing by 2020.