A note on interpreting the figures
It is not possible to make direct links within a reporting year for the different stages of the homelessness process as different households will be at a different stage at different times.
That is, not all applications made in 2021/22 will have an assessment or temporary accommodation placement that year. Similarly, some assessments made in 2021/22 will relate to applications received prior to this; and some temporary placements in 2020/21 will relate to household applications and assessments prior to this also. Furthermore, there will be households who entered and exited temporary accommodation within the same reporting year, and therefore will not appear in the end of year snapshot of households in temporary accommodation.
To also note:
- it is possible for households to make an application and/or be assessed more than once in the same year
- not all households assessed as homeless enter temporary accommodation
The term ‘homeless households’ is used throughout the publication to denote households who have been assessed as (unintentionally or intentionally) homeless or threatened with homelessness.
Impact of coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the pandemic, local authorities made a huge effort to house all of those in need (including those who would not otherwise be eligible for homelessness support). This included, but was not restricted to, the accommodating of rough sleepers. Where households housed in response to the pandemic have a formal homelessness application to a local authority and/or have a temporary accommodation placement recorded on management information systems, they will be included in the statistics presented in this publication. If there is no corresponding homelessness application and/or temporary accommodation placement recorded, they will not be included.
To protect renters over the COVID-19 period the use of extended notice periods for eviction proceedings were introduced through temporary Coronavirus legislation. In addition, mortgage payment deferrals were introduced across the UK in March 2020 to allow customers experiencing issues paying their mortgage during the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for a break in making mortgage payments for a period of up to 6 months, alongside a temporary ban on home repossessions.
Local authorities are reporting on-going effects of COVID-19 on homelessness service provision. In particular, many are experiencing high levels of backlogs due to both the increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation, and the extended periods households are staying in temporary accommodation. There was an increase in the number of households and length of time in temporary accommodation over the pandemic due local authorities being unable to close cases. This was a result of restrictions limiting the ability to move households into permananent acommodation, including difficulties in carrying out necessary repairs, challenges conducting viewings due to households shielding or self-isolating, and a lower level of lets due to staff, especially registered social landlords, being furloughed. In addition, some households who had previously chosen not to take up temporary accommodation provided by the local authority, now required it as the alternative arrangements they had made were no longer viable due to the pandemic.
These backlogs have more recently been further exacerbated by a shortage of tradespeople and building materials, as well as the increased cost of materials, both of which are limiting the ability to prepare properties for use (as settled and temporary accommodation), particularly between tenancies.
Where findings are believed to have been impacted by COVID-19, including additional protections and on-going effects, these have been outlined within the relevant sections.
To also note that the 2020/21 saw a departure from longer-terms trends for some aspects of homelessness, mainly as a result of the unusual circumstances following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and on-going restrictions; this was particularly the case for the period April to June 2020. Caution should therefore be applied when making comparisons with 2020/21 figures, however, these comparisons are in themselves useful in observing any changes in trends since the onset of the pandemic.
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