Over 120,000 young people faced homelessness last year – an increase of almost 10,000 on the previous – according to new research from leading youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.
The charity is warning that that number is likely to be even higher this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, with 4,004 young Londoners facing homelessness this Christmas.
The research, released as part of Centrepoint’s Youth Homelessness Databank project, covers the last financial year, April 2019 to March 2020, is based on Freedom of Information requests and provides the only accurate measure of the scale of youth homelessness in the UK.
That annual national figure has increased by almost 10,000 compared to the previous year. And, Centrepoint warn, the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout mean another significant increase next year is almost inevitable. The charity’s Helpline has seen a stark increase in calls in the last few months, many from young people forced to sleep rough.
In Octboer the CHAIN report on rough sleeping in the capital revealed there had been a significant increase of 16-25 year olds sleeping rough in July to September 2019 – a rise from 250 to 368 (47%) on the last year. Young people now make up 11% of London’s rough sleeping population
Alongside a measure of the scale of youth homelessness the report also highlights the experience of young people approaching councils for support.
The research found that over a quarter of young people (28%) approaching their local authority did not receive the initial assessment they are entitled to under the Homelessness Reduction Act. That number is up compared to the previous year when one in five were not assessed (21%).
And, for the second year running, almost 6 in 10 presentations ended without homelessness being prevented, relieved or receiving a main duty.
Centrepoint says these figures have taken on increased importance in light of the pandemic, especially as the focus in government and council’s has focussed increasingly on supporting entrenched rough sleepers. Centrepoint research earlier this year found this could leave young people struggling to access support.
Paul Noblet, Centrepoint’s Head of Public Affairs, said:
“Our research shows the scale of youth homelessness was increasing even before the pandemic. The events of the last few months make a further dramatic increase inevitable.
“The fact is that most local authorities are already not financially equipped to deal with a surge in demand for support. We’ve heard from dozens of young people who are no longer able to sofa surf due to social distancing laws. Some have been told to sleep rough in order to ‘prove’ their homelessness in order to qualify for support, and some are left to choose between inappropriate all-age shelters or a night on the streets.
“That means central government providing the financial backing local authorities need year after year in order to not only support those without a safe place to stay this Christmas but also to prevent young people becoming homeless in the future.”