Support for people experiencing homelessness in England: what the latest figures tell us

Thursday, 10 October 2019 - 10:20am

On World Homeless Day it is essential to recognise the work of service providers and draw attention to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

Every year thousands of people at risk of and experiencing homelessness rely on homelessness services for accommodation, advice and other forms of support. 

Support for single homeless people in England 2018 captures vital evidence about who is accessing homelessness services, and the support provided by accommodation providers and day centres.

The ‘Annual Review’ as it is also known, continues to be a key data source about the homelessness sector in England, and this year we present findings from the twelfth report. Some of these are highlighted below.

Homelessness in numbers

  • There are currently 34,900 bed spaces available in homelessness accommodation projects – 20% fewer than 2010.
  • There are 186 homelessness day centres – 5% less than the previous year.
  • 56% of accommodation projects provide services to help prevent homelessness.
  • 30% of accommodation projects have experienced a decrease in funding.
  • 17% of accommodation projects have seen their funding increase.

Who is seeking help from services?

  • The majority of clients accessing accommodation services are male (66%). The proportion of women accessing accommodation (24%) and day centres (17%) remains relatively low.
  • 30% of people accessing accommodation services and 14% of those accessing day centres are young people aged 18-25.
  • 23% of people using accommodation services have experience of the criminal justice system, and 21% have previously slept rough.
  • mental health challenges are the most commonly reported support need for people accessing accommodation providers (43%) and day centres (49%).

What support is needed?

Findings from the annual review suggest that a majority of people accessing support around their homelessness have support needs in areas other than their housing. 54% of accommodation providers reported all of their residents had support needs beyond their accommodation needs.

Both accommodation providers (75%) and day centres (93%) help address people’s basic needs – such as providing food- in-house. This highlights the role that services play in addressing people’s immediate needs. But support goes much beyond this – and the report shows the range of activities and interventions offered, from life skills training, welfare and debt advice to drug and alcohol services.

For the first time in this year’s annual review we asked providers about the availability of support for women who had been affected by sexual or physical abuse. It found this support was available at 85% accommodation services, and 90% day centres, although most commonly this is via external referral.

It is our ambition that every person has a home and support they need to keep it. The data provided in the Annual Review provides an insight into the work that happens to help make this a reality, and also some of the challenges facing the sector in achieving this aim. This year, 77% of accommodation providers in England reported that lack of affordable housing is preventing people from moving on from their services. 71% respondents specifically reported that the lack of accommodation available at LHA rates was a barrier to moving on.

This data is vital in supporting evidence-based change. We’d like to wholeheartedly thank all of the organisations and individuals who took the time to participate.  As always, Homeless Link will use this data to support the sector by advocating for change and by developing our range of services to organisations both within and beyond the sector.

For more statistics on services provided, outcomes, move on and further data on the state of the sector please, download a copy of the full report on our annual review of single homelessness support in England.

Single Homelessness Support in England: Annual Review 2018

Our 2018 review of the homelessness sector analyses the capacity, support and services available to single people who become homeless in England. It looks at the changing demand for those services, as well as changes to funding and provision, and examines topical issues faced by the sector.


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Molly Zakra

Research Officer

Molly Zakra is the Research Officer at Homeless Link