The Guardian view on homelessness: not just a Christmas crisis | Editorial

Photo of The Guardian view on homelessness: not just a Christmas crisis | Editorial

There is an unmistakable link between the squeeze on welfare and the rising number of people homeless or living in temporary accommodation

For a few days over Christmas, a massive effort by charities such as Crisis and the volunteers they recruit tries to offer something like festive cheer for thousands of people who might otherwise have been sleeping out on the cold, wet streets of Britain’s cities. Crisis at Christmas – Europe’s largest volunteer-run event – last year mobilised more than 10,500 volunteers and helped over 4,500 homeless people in centres in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh and Newcastle. This year, they expect even more people to need their support. The generosity of individuals on this scale is a fine thing. But it is no answer to the perfect storm that now howls round housing policy, driving the surge in homelessness and the number of families in temporary accommodation.

There is an easy, obvious, explanation for why this perfect storm has built up; and there is a less obvious but more immediate one. The easy, obvious explanation is the catastrophic shortage of new homes. That drives up prices while at the same time banks demand deposits of at least 5%. That often means upwards of £7,500, a fortune out of reach to many potential buyers. So they swell the demand for renting.

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#george osborne
#social exclusion
#nick clegg
#universal credit
#housing benefit