Rise in older people left without a home
Councils warn of ‘ticking timebomb’
COUNCILS: The nation is facing a “ticking timebomb” of homelessness, local authority chiefs have warned, as new figures reveal an alarming rise in the number of older people sleeping on the streets.
We are facing a ticking timebomb in older homelessness. Coun Izzi Seccombe, Local Government Association.
THE NATION is facing a “ticking timebomb” of homelessness, local authority chiefs have warned, as new figures reveal an alarming rise in the number of older people sleeping on the streets.
Rapidly increasing rent prices and stagnating incomes have been blamed by councils for the increase, which has seen a spike in the number of people aged over 60 becoming homeless.
Local authorities accepted some 620 older people, equivalent to almost 10 every day, as homeless between April and June.
The figure has more than doubled since October 2009, when 270 older people were accepted as homeless by councils.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, has warned that homelessness in older people is a growing hidden phenomenon that could be set to double again by 2025.
Coun Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Traditionally homelessness is associated with young people and it is a tragic fact that a person suffering homelessness lives to an average age of only 47.
“But we are facing a ticking timebomb in older homelessness, with an alarming rise in the number of older people becoming homeless. While the actual
numbers are relatively low, at the current rate, this will spiral in just a few years.”
The LGA yesterday launched a new report, titled The Impact of
Homelessness on Health, at its National Children and Adult Services Conference in Bournemouth, which highlights the rising number of older homeless people and warns of the extra pressures councils will face as a result.
It is calling on the Government to address an “undersupply” in specialist housing for older people.
Councils need to be able to borrow to invest in new council housing to increase supply, boost home ownership and reduce homelessness, the LGA has warned.
Older homeless people are presenting to councils with a range of complex conditions, including mental health problems, alcohol abuse and gambling problems, according to local authorities.
Other factors that can contribute to homelessness in later life are the death of a relative, a relationship breakdown or accommodation problems.
Coun Seccombe added: “Homelessness is not just a housing issue.
“Homelessness and ill-health are intrinsically linked, and this is especially evident in elderly people.
“Councils want to end homelessness by preventing it happening in the first place; we need Government to allow councils to build affordable homes and to adapt welfare reforms to ensure housing remains affordable for low-income families.”
The latest figures, released by the Government, come after police announced on Wednesday that a new project is being launched in Yorkshire to help the most vulnerable homeless people.
The Huddersfield initiative is a partnership between West Yorkshire Police and Safer Kirklees.
It aims to encourage and support homeless people in Huddersfield town centre in a bid to help them find accommodation, as well as combating street begging by working with the Huddersfield Mission charity.
COUN IZZI SECCOMBE: Said the Government must allow councils to build homes.