The full extent of youth homelessness is more than eight times higher than the Government admits, according to a new report.
At least 30,000 young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are turned away from local authorities each year. Figures from homelessness charity Centrepoint suggest at least 136,000 16-24 year-olds have asked for help in the past year but only 106,000 got it.
The report is based on 146 responses from a Freedom of Information request in England and Wales and suggests councils are unable to cope with the volume of young people in need of support.
Some 136,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 in England and Wales sought emergency housing in the past year. The figure is based on an analysis by the Centrepoint charity of 275 Freedom of Information responses from local authorities. In stark contrast, only 16,000 young people were officially classed as “statutory homeless” – which would mean councils had a legal duty to house them – according to the report.
Worryingly, some 30,000 of those seeking help were turned away with little if any support. And as many as 90,000 were only offered support such as family mediation, to help them stay at home, or debt advice. This means the vast majority of those going for help are not getting the full assistance they’d be entitled to if they were officially accepted as being homeless.
Last year only 40% of young people asking for support were given an assessment to find out if they were eligible for emergency housing.
Centrepoint say without assessments in all cases, some of the most vulnerable people could miss out on immediate housing support to which they are legally entitled, leaving them at risk. The charity’s FOI does say that local authorities are not required to record the number of people asking them for help meaning the true number could well be higher. They also say official statistics from the government on homelessness only show “part of the picture”.
“A lack of coherent national data makes measuring the true scale of youth homelessness very challenging. Figures compiled by the Department of Communities and local government and by devolved authorities show that there were 26,852 statutory homeless young people across the UK in 2013-14.”
The government has dismissed the report. A Government spokesman said:
“Centrepoint’s analysis is misleading and based on anecdotal evidence. Official figures show homelessness acceptances among young people in England is 13,490 which is less than half what it was in 2005. We have made over £1bn available since 2010, to prevent and tackle homelessness and support vulnerable households.”
BBC Newsbeat have produced a detailed report which is worth taking the time to watch:
[youtube id=”I2cDZ_h6YrA” width=”580″ height=”337″]