The vast majority of homeless people in the UK aren't rough sleepers

Sep 28, 2023
3 min read
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We provide personalised cash grants to help people out of homelessness for good

It costs Greater Change just £1,300 to help an individual out of homelessness.
This saves the public purse over £29,000 per annum. A return of over 20x

Rough sleeping is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problem of homelessness in the UK. In total there are an estimated 300,000 individuals who are homeless on any given night in 2023 (Crisis).

Just over 1% of these are rough sleepers. The vast majority of homeless individuals in the UK, an estimated 250,000 in fact, are housed in temporary accommodation.

What is temporary accommodation?

Temporary accommodation refers to short-term housing solutions provided to individuals and families facing homelessness. It serves as a safety net, offering a place to stay while individuals work towards securing more stable, long-term housing solutions. Temporary accommodation can take various forms, including:

  1. Emergency Shelters: These are often run by charities and local authorities, providing immediate shelter to those in dire need, typically in communal settings.
  2. Hostels: Hostels offer shared or private rooms for individuals and are often used by single homeless people.
  3. Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs): In some cases, local authorities may place homeless families or individuals in B&Bs when no other options are available.
  4. Supported Housing: This type of accommodation provides not only shelter but also support services, such as counseling, to help individuals address the root causes of their homelessness.

Most of this accommodation is provided and funded by the council, putting a great deal of pressure on their already stretched services.

What is the financial cost of temporary accommodation?

The cost is enormous. In the South East, the cost of housing one individual in temporary accommodation is £50-£90 per person per night; that’s £18,250 - £32,850 per annum per person. Cumulatively, local authorities spent at least £1.6 Billion on temporary accommodation last year according to parliamentary research.

What is the human cost of temporary accommodation?

While temporary accommodation is a vital lifeline for those experiencing homelessness, it is not without its challenges. Some of the key issues include:

  1. Overcrowding: Emergency shelters and hostels can become overcrowded, leading to reduced comfort and safety for residents.
  2. Lack of Privacy: Many temporary accommodation options lack privacy, making it challenging for individuals and families to maintain their dignity.
  3. Unsuitability: Some temporary accommodation options, like B&Bs, are often unsuitable for families, especially those with young children.
  4. Lengthy Stays: In some cases, people end up staying in temporary accommodation for extended periods due to the scarcity of affordable housing options.
  5. Mental Health: The transient nature of temporary accommodation can exacerbate mental health issues among residents.

Temporary accommodation is not just a huge financial cost to the government, it also a very difficult living situation and one which many who are homeless have to endure for years. Often lacking cooking facilities and including a lot of shared facilities and spaces, our clients have reported feeling unsafe and unstable.

Crucially, it is not a home and it is therefore very difficult for individuals to use as a base from which to rebuild their lives and move out of homelessness.

How does Greater Change tackle the problem?

At Greater Change, we believe that temporary accommodation is both a bottleneck along the pathway out of homelessness and a major cost that has the potential to be saved. By providing significant personalised cash grants to individuals at risk of falling into homelessness or to help them out of homelessness, our service reduces the burden of temporary accommodation costs on councils and helps to provide a long term solution to homelessness.

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