More than a quarter of homeless households in Bedford are in work

Charity calls figures "unacceptable"

By Clare Turner
Monday, 8th February 2021, 11:55 am

More than a quarter of households identified as homeless in Bedford last summer were in work, figures reveal.

Homeless charity Crisis said it is "unacceptable" that there are thousands of people in paid work but without a home across England during the coronavirus pandemic, and called for long-term investment in social housing.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows 248 households were entitled to help from Bedford Borough Council between July and September – 156 of which were assessed as homeless and 92 at risk of becoming so.

More than a quarter of households identified as homeless in Bedford last summer were in work

Of these, 35 had at least one person working full-time and 30 part-time – 27 per cent of all homeless households in the area whose employment status was known.

There were also three households where the main applicant was a student, or in training, and 15 where they were seeking work.

Between July and September 2018, the last time these figures were published for this period, there were 215 households in need of help – with 29 per cent% in work.

Across England, almost a quarter (15,590) of households assessed as homeless had full-time or part-time jobs between July and September last year.

Crisis said the situation could have been even worse without the uplift in Universal Credit and the furlough scheme, but that people will continue to struggle when restrictions are eased.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s unacceptable that thousands of people in England cannot afford a place to live, despite being in work.

“We are calling on the Westminster Government to provide emergency grants and loans to renters who have been forced into arrears by the pandemic and extend the benefit cap grace period until the end of the pandemic.

"But we must not lose sight of the fact that homelessness amongst workers has existed long before Covid-19 and to end it once and for all, we need long-term investment in affordable housing.”

In Bedford, 117 households (48 per cent) owed help by the council between July and September had at least one member registered as unemployed, not seeking work, or at home.

A further 29 (12 per cent) could not work due to illness or disability and six (2 per cent) were retired.

Housing charity Shelter said less than half of households found to be homeless nationwide were not helped to find a home – showing the impact of a lack of suitable social housing.

The three most common triggers of homelessness in England between July and September were households no longer being able to stay with families and friends (33 per cent), the loss of a private tenancy (14 per cent) and domestic abuse (11 per cent).

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said thousands of people are struggling to survive the "never-ending nightmare" of the pandemic, as a result of decades of "political neglect".

A spokeswoman for the Government said it had provided "unprecedented support" for renters during the pandemic through the evictions ban and welfare support.

She added that over £700million was being provided to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year, and over £12billion in affordable housing over five years.