Rise in homeless as funding unveiled

The number of homeless people trapped in temporary accommodation has risen beyond 100,000, official statistics revealed this week.

The ODPM figures show that the total number of homeless people is two-and-a-half times higher than when Labour came to power in 1997. The news comes in the same week that deputy prime minister John Prescott announced a £150 million funding package to tackle the UK's homelessness problem.

"We need to find new ways to provide settled and affordable homes for people and end the insecurity that traps and excludes them," said Prescott.

The statistics reveal that the number of homeless people living in private sector housing has risen by 1,180 to 52,870 since 1997, equivalent to half the total number of homeless people.

Most private accommodation is leased by local authorities or social landlords, though some is rented directly from private landlords. A further 7,400 homeless live in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, although this is 28 per cent less than last year.

Housing charity Shelter estimates that temporary accommodation costs British taxpayers £500 million a year. Director Adam Sampson commented: "It is a scandal that 100,000 households, many of them families with children, are now facing Christmas in temporary accommodation, with devastating effects on their health, education and future prospects."

A spokeswoman from campaigners Housing Justice said: "The government has focused its efforts on getting visible homelessness down in the form of rough sleepers off the streets. But these figures prove that more invisible forms of homelessness have grown."

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