The true scale of homelessness in the UK is almost 10 times worse than official figures suggest, according to a new report.
Homeless charity Justlife warns thousands of people are being “forgotten in statistics”. It estimated that at least 51,500 people were living in B&Bs in the year to April 2016. This is compared with 5,870 official B&B placements recorded by the government.
It comes after a separate investigation found that 78 homeless people died last winter – an average of at least two a week. The report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed the fatalities included rough sleepers, people recognised as “statutory homeless” and people staying in temporary accommodation.
Justlife reached its estimate on the homeless B&B population using data gathered from Freedom of Information requests to local authorities. Additionally, information from the government’s Rural and Urban Classification for Local Authority Districts data was included.
Christa Maciver, author of the report, said: “We can no longer ignore the tens of thousands of people stuck homeless, hidden and ignored in our cities. This report shows there is so much we don’t know and that we really need to be calculating homelessness more accurately.
“Very few seem to care about the vulnerable people who end up in B&Bs, hostels and guesthouses. Once they are there they are forgotten and it’s almost like we forget they are people.
“Their mental and physical health gets worse, and many can end up dead, but because they have a roof over their head – no matter how insecure – they are not counted within homelessness, when they should be. Only if we acknowledge the problem will we really be able to start finding solutions.”