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The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England is at its highest level in more than a decade and the number of households considered newly homeless rose by by more than 3,000 in three months, government statistics show.

A total of 84,740 households were in bed and breakfasts, hostels and other temporary accommodation at the end of March this year, including 126,020 children, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said. It is the highest number of such households since mid-2007 and compares with a low of 48,010 in 2010.

Between January and March this year, 32,740 households were initially assessed as being homeless, up 11.2% from 29,430 in the previous quarter.

The figures only account for those whom the authorities deem homeless, and charities say the true figure is much higher. Years of austerity, changes to the benefit system and rising rents have led to sustained increases in the number of people made homeless.

The number of households classified as homeless in rural England almost doubled over the past year, according to an analysis by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. It said 173,584 families were on waiting lists for social housing in areas where councils built just 1,336 homes for social rent in 2018.

The housing charity Shelter said one household had become homeless every four minutes in England in the last year, and it called on the government to invest in a new generation of social homes.

“During a year where Brexit negotiations have totally dominated the political agenda, catastrophic numbers of people have become homeless,” said Shelter’s chief executive, Polly Neate. “Cripplingly expensive private rents, frozen housing benefits and lengthy waiting lists for social homes are pushing people to the sharp edge of a housing emergency, which won’t go away without genuinely affordable homes. Read more

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