Figures released today by the National Audit Office suggest that the number of homeless people in Lincoln has risen by 50% in the last six years, however a local charity has claimed that the situation is much worse, with hundreds more people sleeping on the streets than official figures imply.
The NAO study, published on Wednesday, September 13, stated that there were 77,240 households in temporary accommodation nationally in March 2017, an increase of 60% since 2011, with homelessness costing the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year.
Figures suggest that the number of people sleeping rough in Lincoln has risen from 5 to 12 since 2010, but Lincolnshire homelessness charity the Nomad Trust has warned that their own counts have shown the number of people on the streets of the city is in the hundreds.
In Lincoln between 2010/11 and 2016/17 the number of homeless people noted in the NAO study increased from 8 to 12 – a 50% rise.
The highest number of rough sleepers recorded in the city was 14 in 2015-16.
The number of people housed in temporary accommodation in Lincoln, such as shelters and temporary provision supplied by the City of Lincoln Council in shelters or B&Bs (a statutory duty), decreased from 25 to 14 according to the study – a 44% fall.
The highest number of people placed in temporary accommodation in the city was 36 in 2012/13.
National Audit Office also looked at the number of cases of homelessness that were prevented.
Local authority assistance to prevent homelessness includes support to enable families at risk of homelessness to stay in their own homes, or to secure alternative accommodation.
Between 2009/10 and 2016/17, cases of homelessness prevention increased from 240 to 551 – 130%.
In 2014/15 the highest number of homelessness prevention cases were prevented – 803.
The study highlighted the changing reasons that people are ending up homeless. In particular there have been distinctive rises in the number of people giving reasons as relationship breakdowns with partners.
The number of people stating their reason for homelessness as ‘relatives or friends no longer able or willing to provide accommodation’ has decreased.
Tip of the iceberg
Dean Bell, from the The Nomad Trust, said: “The figures released today by the National Audit Office highlight just a snapshot of homelessness across the country.
“Last year alone, The Nomad Trust supported just short of 300 homeless people.
“We know that homelessness is becoming an increasing problem, something which is prevalent throughout the NAO report, and something we experience throughout our work in the county.
“What we are aiming to achieve as a long term solution to this ever growing crisis is a new Day Centre, which will offer support and safety to those who find themselves without a home and in need of help.”
This will be located on St Rumbold’s Street on existing premises owned by the YMCA.
It will provide a ‘one stop shop’ approach with the intention of providing as much of the key services an individual requires in one location.
Dean added: “Our vision is that the new Nomad Centre will offer a collaborative solution for the Local Authority in their duties under the new Homelessness Reduction Act.
“The Department for Communities and Local Government has acknowledged that there is a homelessness crisis, and have put in place some measures to combat it.
“But they have also acknowledged that an increased provision of ongoing support is vital, which is exactly why the direct access emergency accommodation and new day centre are key in us supporting the Local Authority and community.”