Outline Recent Trends in and the Underlying

Outline recent trends in and the underlying causes of homelessness and discuss the policy options for reducing homelessness


Homelessness is referred to the condition of living the on the streets or lack of housing facility that is the general living spaces constructed and assigned for the usage of sheltering people to live and perform their everyday life activities. In the UK, homelessness is seen to be one of the leading social issue. This is evident as in 2019 the Shelter reported that nearly 320,000 people homeless with 5000 of them are roughly sleeping and 726 estimated to be dead due to the condition of homelessness. Since 2017, there has been a rise of 22% deaths due to homelessness which indicates that it a prevailing social issue (Hattenstone and Lavelle, 2020). Thus, the recent trends responsible for the rise of homelessness is to be discussed with policies that are available in reducing the homelessness. One of the prime causes of current rise in homelessness in the UK is lack of availability of affordable living space for the people. This is evident as in the UK, it is reported that on an average a person in their 20s will require to spend nearly half of their post-tax income for paying the rent of a one-bedroom property (Travers et al., 2020). This indicates that most of the income is required to be spent by people to live in a minimum spacious home in the UK. According to the reports published by the UK government (ONS), the ratio of the average monthly rent to the average monthly salaries in Westminster that is the most expensive property area in the country exceeds to 78%. Moreover, 18 of the boroughs in London were found to be within 25 areas in which the rent-to-income ratio is more than 50% (ONS, 2020). This indicates that most of the areas in the London are highly expensive and nearly unaffordable for poor families or people to rent a minimum spacious home as they would then require to spent most of their earnings beyond their ability.


The ratio of the average earnings to the housing prices in the UK is mentioned to be 5.89 (Travers et al., 2020). This indicates that more than half of the income in the families are spent to accommodate housing facility in the UK. The high price of the housing has therefore created a dramatic impact on the disposable income of the poor families. This is because they have to spent most their earned resources to arrange living spaces making them unable to have enough finances left to be used for arranging other basic needs in life (Bramley and Fitzpatrick, 2018). It is driving to create situation of homelessness for the families living in the UK and London as people are unwilling to spend such huge finances for arranging living spaces. This is because it would leave them broke and unable to meet their basic needs in life such as education, food and others which are more important than having a living pace. The lack of increase in the disposable income of private-renters in the UK and London is also responsible for creating increased homelessness among the people. It is evident as 28% decline in the income of the private renters been reported after change in housing costs in 2011 (Booth, 2020). The private renters are those who have to spend finances in renting living space as they do not own properties (Fitzpatrick et al., 2016). The lack of change in income as per rise in housing prices for the public leads them unable to have adequate presence of money required to rent a living space, in turn, driving them to become homeless (Bramley and Fitzpatrick, 2018). In the UK, in 2020, it is reported that 4.9% of the people in the UK are found to lose employment which indicates that 1.69 million people are unemployed (Partington, 2020). The rate of unemployment in 2017 was 4.5% which is equivalent to 1.49 people being unemployed (ONS, 2017). In 2017, there were 230,000 homeless people that increased to 280,000 homeless people in 2019 in England with no separate figure been identified for Wales and Scotland (Gov, 2020). The comparison of the figures regarding unemployment and homelessness indicates that with increase in one variable the other also increased indicating direct link with between homelessness and unemployment. Thus, the unemployment is one of the current causes of rising homelessness in the UK. This is because lack of steady source of income or permanent working condition leads the likelihood of a person to be unable to arrange and pay finances in renting housing facility for living purpose (Loopstra et al., 2016). It is also evident as out of 300,000 people who are unemployed and is of 16-24 years of age reported fear of homelessness as they would be unable to bear the housing rent required for them to live (Hughes, 2020). The presence of mental illness is one of the key drivers and cause of rising homelessness in the UK. It is evident as 2014 it is reported that 80% of the identified homeless people are found to be suffering from mental illness (mentalhealth.org, 2020). The mentally ill people are found to be homeless because they are burden of care and being shame for the family are rejected by their family members to live on the streets. This is because it leads the family members to relive from the caring for the mentally ill people (Reeve, 2017). Moreover, the mentally ill people who are suffering from dementia and other memory-related disorder are seen to wander away from the home into the streets. They being unable to mention their location get lost during wandering in turn leading them to remain homeless (Pleace, 2016). In addition, mentally ill people are seen to be financially abused by others by taking advantage of their health condition. It leads the mentally ill people develop poor economic condition as a result of which they are unable to bear the rent of the house and becomes homeless (McCormick and White, 2016). Thus, lack of effective social and family support for people with mental illness drives them to become homeless. The presence of substance abuse behaviour among individuals with lack of support for the people to overcome it is another reason that results in homelessness. This is evident as 62.5% of the individual who are homeless in the UK are reported to be actively involved in substance abuse as a result of lack of service support to overcome the behaviour (mentalhealth.org.uk, 2020). The inability to overcome substance abuse often lead people to become homeless because they spent most of their finances in supporting and meeting their addiction over substances that leaves them with no or little finances which is incapable to allow them to rent a proper home for staying (Adshead et al., 2019). Therefore, economic hindrance caused substance abuse drive people to become homeless. The presence of poverty is the other current cause that is leading people to become homeless. This is because people under poverty has very limited financial resources which makes even at times unable to effectively pay and arrange for food, childcare, education and healthcare. In this condition, the poor people require to make difficult choices where they choose to avoid renting homes to save the existing limiting resources to arrange for more vital basic needs for them and the family (Rose and McAuley, 2019). In the UK, focusing on the recent and current condition of homelessness, the UK government ha arrange various policy options to reduce the prevalence of the condition. For example, the UK government developed the Homeless Reduction Act 2017 to control the issue of homeless. In this Act, the UK government provided duties to the local authorities in each area in the UK to refer service users to housing authorities who they make think through the assessment are homeless or are living threatened life due to homelessness (legislation.gov.uk, 2017). The Act is effective to arrange immediate housing support for the homeless people who are in a vulnerable condition on the street to ensure their safety and protect them harm. Since unemployment is one of the major causes of homelessness, the UK government developed Jobcentre Plus which is a government service that helps people living on benefits and poor condition to find jobs. In Jobcentre Plus, there are coaches and trainer who trains people to develop skill and knowledge along with resolve gap in skills for the homeless and needy people to become suitable for getting job (Gov, 2020a). Thus, the unemployed people who have lost their jobs due to lack of skills and are facing homelessness or at risk of homelessness are able to access support from the Jobcentre Plus in gaining employment. This would lead them to earn money and become able to arrange housing facility along with other need for them and family. The UK government has developed another policy named Universal Credit which helps to provide financial assistance to the people for bearing the living cost. In this policy, the individuals who have low income, unemployed and/or unable to work are paid a certain amount monthly to help them bear their living cost and avoid being homeless (Gov, 2014). The other current policy option made available by the UK government for the homeless people is inclusion in Crisis Skylight Centres. The Centres mainly works to provide employment services as well as learning opportunities to the people through a holistic model in supporting the homeless people or at risk of being homeless. The employment service is provided by following a coaching model in which each client to provide their own trained coach to offer them tailored support in overcoming barrier with employment (crisis.org.uk, 2019a). This is effective in reducing homeless as a result of loss of job or unemployment because the coaching provides goal-oriented support to the people with focus to ensure they access enhanced employment to protect themselves from being homeless. The UK government through Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 informs that local authorities are to work closely with the voluntary organisations in each area to perform mapping exercise in detecting the people who are homeless or at risk of homeless. The policy instructs the local authorities in the are to act with multi-agencies to formulate strategies in the way homelessness can be reduced in the area (crisis.org.uk 2017). This policy is effective to reduce homelessness as they allow involvement of local government authorities in detecting people at risk of homelessness to be helped in any way to resolve the situation. The government under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 mentions to provide social housing support for the homeless people (legislation.gov.uk, 2017). This is effective policy condition as it would lead to reduce the number of homeless people by providing them places to live. In relation to this aspect of the Act, the Street Support is been developed which is an online resource regarding homelessness managed in different cities to provide useful support and services to the people who are homeless (streetsupport.net, 2018). Thus, the use of the program can be easily done by the homeless people if they have access to any computer or smartphone. The UK government under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 have arranged needs-lead personalised housing plan to be provided to the homeless people which contains steps to prevent or resolve the individual’s homelessness condition (legislation.gov.uk, 2017). This policy context is effective to offer statutory support to the homeless people in the UK to overcome the condition with enhanced strategic help from the government. The Act under the “duty to refer” introduced in October 2018 mention that specific authorities in the UK are responsible to notify the LHAs with the individual’s content who is at risk of being homeless within 56 days (legislation.gov.uk, 2017). This strategy taken through the policy is effective in protecting people at risk of homelessness to be timely supported to prevent the condition. The above discussion mentions that homelessness in current suffered due to key reason such as unemployment, mental illness, poverty, unemployment and substance abuse. The existing policy of the UK government for preventing homelessness is Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. The Act has led to develop various social support and programs to be arranged in resolving unemployment and other issues to prevent rising number of homelessness as well as support people who have already become homeless.

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