`

More than 40 Northumberland households declared homeless, official statistics show

Homeless family
Homeless family

More than 40 vulnerable people and young families have been declared homeless in Northumberland by the council, and were set to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation.

The latest statistics, from Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), show how many applicants were declared unintentionally homeless by the local authority between July 1 and September 30 this year.

Of that figure, 13 were placed in temporary accommodation for the foreseeable future. This meant possibly spending Christmas in a cramped hostel or bed and breakfast, potentially outside the area.

Also, 28 applicants have at least one dependent child - while 12 have three children. Worryingly pregnant women make up six of Northumberland's homeless.

The data also revealed that 13 applicants had to leave their homes due to violent partners.

Housing officers classify someone as unintentionally homeless if they believe they are without a place to live or are threatened with homelessness.

The applicant also has to be in priority need, such as having a family. The mother or father may have been evicted after being made redundant, or had their benefits cut.

Those determined to be unintentionally homeless join the waiting list for a council house, while living in temporary accommodation provided by the local authority. Some stay with friends and family.

Overall, the homelessness figures in Northumberland show a 26% fall on the same period in 2016, and a 9% decrease on the third quarter of 2014.

The local authority dealt with 63 decisions over the period and decided that 13 applicants were either not homeless, not priority cases or were intentionally homeless. These figures do not include rough sleepers.

Across England, local authorities accepted 15,290 households as being statutorily homeless between July and September, up 6% from the previous quarter and up 2% on the same quarter of last year.

One factor in the increase was the Grenfell Tower fire, west London, where 71 people died, and 214 homeless applications were accepted.

The number of households in the country living in temporary accommodation also rose, increasing by 6% on the same date last year and up 65% on a low point of 48,010 on December 31, 2010.

Last week, MPs said homelessness in England was 'a national crisis' and the Government's approach to tackling the problem has been an 'abject failure'.

The Public Accounts Committee report said the DCLG's attitude to reducing homelessness has been 'unacceptably complacent', with limited action that has lacked urgency.

Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, said: "The latest official figures hammer home the shameful state of homelessness in England and the abject failure of the Government's approach to addressing the misery suffered by many thousands of families and individuals.

"At Christmas-time, there were thousands of children in temporary accommodation, a salutary reminder of the human cost of policy failure. The Government must do more to understand and measure the real-world costs and causes of homelessness and put in place the joined-up strategy that is so desperately needed."

A DCLG spokesman said: "We are providing over £1billion up to 2020 to reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping and we are bringing in the Homelessness Reduction Act, which is the most ambitious reform in decades, to ensure people get support sooner."