Chronic increase of ‘hidden’ homelessness in the countryside fuelled by cost-of-living crisis, ground-breaking report shows
Homeless Link was part of a steering group for, and is supporting asks from, a newly released report from academics at the University of Kent and the University of Southampton. The report undertaken on behalf of a coalition of rural charities and housing associations shows rural areas being paid a fraction of what they need to tackle homelessness.
The study, by academics at the University of Kent and the University of Southampton, on behalf of a coalition of rural charities and housing associations, shows rural areas being paid a fraction of what they need to tackle homelessness in their communities.
The true scale of the crisis is likely to be far higher than the official statistics. The year-long study, which included a survey of 157 frontline support workers, service providers, NGOs, and shelters, found an overwhelming majority thought rural homelessness was a serious problem that was getting worse.
Key findings include:
- Rough sleeping in rural areas shot up 24% in just one year;
- 91% of respondents in rural areas have seen homelessness increase in the past five years;
- 83% of respondents in rural areas said their job had become harder in the past five years;
- 81% of respondents believe that rough sleeping is experienced differently in rural areas compared to urban areas.
Overall, rural local authorities are receiving 65% less in funding per capita through the Homelessness Prevention Grant than urban areas, who are themselves chronically underfunded.
The sharp discrepancy in financial aid, discovered in statistics released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, shows urban local authorities were paid £7.15, compared to just £2.50 paid to rural local authorities when calculated on a like-for-like basis.
Interviews with more than 40 people, including people who sleep rough and outreach workers in four rural locations, paint a striking picture of isolation and resilience.
People who experience homelessness in rural areas often sleep rough in farmland or woodland, making them much harder for outreach workers to find and support, and putting their life and health in jeopardy. Real life stories shared with the researchers included people digging trenches in the snow to sleep, going several days without food, being spat on, their tents set on fire, and muggings that resulted in brain injuries and teeth being knocked out.
The study found that isolation also made the problem far worse for those facing homelessness in rural areas, where limited transport options and the absence of support placed them at greater risk. Those with physical or mental health needs were found to be most vulnerable.
Martin Collett, chief executive of English Rural and co-chair of the research project, said:
“This research shines a spotlight on a growing rural crisis hidden in plain sight. You see here the brutal reality beyond the insufficient official statistics. People who have no chance of affording a basic standard of living through no fault of their own. You don’t tend to see people sleeping rough in rural areas – but they’re there, normally hidden in agricultural buildings, outhouses, sleeping rough on farmland or condemned to an insecure life of sofa surfing. Because funding is so inadequate, many people are moving to urban centres for much needed support. It is in all our interests to fix this crisis.
“Rural homelessness is a significant problem, and a lack of support and funding for affordable homes and services in these areas puts vulnerable households at a distinct disadvantage. The findings of this research should drive a step change in our approach to the issue. Local and national leaders must come together to say clearly that ‘rural homelessness counts.”
To find out more you can read the report, sign-up to an information webinar on 26th April here, and also find out more about the research project.
Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/chronic-increase-of-hidden-homelessness-in-the-countryside-fuelled-by-cost-of-living-crisis-ground-breaking-report-shows/
Latest News from
The Spring Budget: What will it mean for the homelessness sector?20/03/2023 11:10:00
Policy Manager Cat Tottie analyses the announcements made in the recent Spring Budget and what impact they will have on the homelessness sector.
Supported Housing (Regulatory Oversight) Bill: Update20/03/2023 10:10:00
Homeless Link Head of Policy Sophie Boobis, provides an update on this proposes legislation
Homeless Link warns of “missed opportunity” in Spring Budget17/03/2023 09:20:00
On 15/03/23, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the Government’s spending plans in the Spring Budget.
Neurodiversity and Homelessness14/03/2023 16:10:00
This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week, a worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences.
Homeless Link joins charity sector call for urgent support10/03/2023 09:20:00
Homeless Link has signed a joint letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt with NCVO and other leaders across the charity sector. The letter calls for urgent action in next week's budget to help charities deal with increasing demand for their services during the cost of living of crisis and as energy prices spiral.
International Womens Day: Celebrating The Achievements Of Women Who Experience Homelessness07/03/2023 16:05:00
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness of ongoing discrimination and take action.
How we vote is changing06/03/2023 09:10:00
Tim Crowley, Head of Digital Communications and Voter Engagement at the Electoral Commission, writes about a recent change to the law that impacts how we vote in some elections, and how people experiencing homelessness can meet this new requirement.
Rough sleeping in England rises by over a quarter: Homeless Link responds01/03/2023 12:20:00
The annual counts and estimates data for rough sleeping in England in 2022 was published yesterday (28/02/2023) by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
Last episode of series two of Going Beyond podcast with Nick Karr & Neal McArdle20/02/2023 16:10:00
In the sixth episode of the series, we speak with Nick Karr, registered psychotherapist who specialises in working with individuals with a dual diagnosis, many of whom who have experienced homelessness.