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IPPR - Government must stop ignoring hidden crisis of rural homeless

New IPPR study reveals that over 6,000 rural households became homeless last year.

A new report by IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, exposes the injustice of often hidden homelessness in rural areas.

The new report, Right to home? Rethinking homelessness in rural communities, finds:

  • In 2015/16, 6,270 households were accepted as homeless in England’s 91 mainly and largely rural local authorities, with one-fifth of all homeless cases occurring outside of England’s most urban areas.
  • Between 2010 to 2016, predominantly rural local authorities recorded a 42 per cent increase in rough sleeping
  • Many cases of homelessness in rural areas go undetected, with people more likely to bed down in alternative countryside locations like outhouses, barns, tents and parked cars
  • The causes of homelessness are often similar across urban and rural areas and most frequently relate to family breakdown or the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy
  • Particular challenges in rural areas include lower levels of housing affordability; shortages in affordable homes; and high prevalence of second and holiday homes

Preventing and relieving homelessness can be especially difficult in rural areas because of a relative absence of emergency hostels and temporary accommodation, large travel distances with limited public transport, isolated and dispersed communities, and constrained resourcing for specialist services.

To tackle this problem, IPPR recommends that:

  • Central government should develop a new national homelessness strategy, taking the enactment of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 as its lead, and which must include rural-specific consideration and guidance
  • Local authorities should enter into two-way negotiations with central government to develop devolution deals on housing and planning in which ambitious commitments to increasing affordable supply should be met with a transferral of power to do so
  • Local authorities should set up rural community homelessness hubs, using local buildings and running weekly drop-in sessions which bring together relevant services to provide advice and support those at risk of or experiencing homelessness

Charlotte Snelling, IPPR Research Fellow said:

“Many people see homelessness and rough sleeping as a problem which only affects England’s big cities.

“However IPPR’s research shows that it is a real problem in rural areas too. It is often hidden with people forced to bed down in in outhouses, barns, tents and parked cars.

“However, this isn’t something we simply have to accept: building more affordable homes alongside putting in the right support from government would do much to tackle this issue.

“This will require politicians both locally and nationally to accept their responsibility to change things and put in place a much better strategy to do this”.

Contact

Sofie Jenkinson, 07981023031, s.jenkinson@ippr.org

Editor’s notes

IPPR’s new report ‘Right to home? Rethinking homelessness in rural communities is available from: http://www.ippr.org/publications/right-to-home

Homelessness is defined as having been assessed to be unintentionally homeless and in priority need – ‘statutorily homeless’)

Right to home? Rethinking homelessness in rural communities is supported by the Hastoe Group, the leading rural affordable housing specialist who own and manage around 7,500 affordable homes in southern England (www.hastoe.com).

IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

Our independent research is wide ranging and covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas. ippr.org

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