Dismay as Luton named one of UK’s homelessness blackspots

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Shocking statistics reveal that Luton has over twice the number of people living on the streets than any other town in the East of England, according to homeless charity Shelter.

The study by the charity finds that Luton has 3,458 people living homeless in the borough, which equates to just one in 63 people.

Basildon has the next largest number of homeless people at 1,039 - which equates to one person homeless in 135.

The results mean that Luton is one of the top homelessness blackspots in the UK.

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “This is the tragic result of a nation struggling under the weight of sky-high rents, a lack of affordable homes, and cuts to welfare support.

“We all face the consequences when so many grow up without a place to call home. It breaks up communities and wreaks havoc on family life. For the sake of future generations we must pull together to end this crisis, and refuse to rest until every child has a place to call home.”

Luton Borough Council did not dispute the accuracy of the figures and confirmed that there is a “homelessness crisis” in Luton.

A council spokesman said: “Until recently Luton was a relatively affordable place to live but in the past few years the cost of housing in the town has become increasingly expensive.

“This has been exacerbated by government cuts to housing benefit for low-income families which has fuelled the crisis.

“Luton currently has 1,250 families in temporary accommodation, and the cost for this is projected to be £4 million this year.

“We are working hard with partners to meet our statutory responsibility towards homeless families, and at best value to the council tax payer.

“We have successfully reduced the number of families placed in hotels from 227 in June to 42 today.

“This is however a fundamentally national issue which requires a UK-wide review and a wholly new approach from the government.

“The government has recently announced funding to support councils in preventing homelessness, however it comes nowhere near meeting the costs that Luton has to bear.

“We hope that the government recognises that Luton is a ‘hotspot’ and responds positively to our bids for assistance.”

Shelter’s co-founder Des Wilson said it was a sad fact as the charity celebrates its 50th anniversary. He added: “I hope the country will respond to its urgent rallying call with the same combination of anger and compassion with which it supported our work all those years ago.”

Support Shelter’s urgent Christmas appeal by visiting www.shelter.org.uk or texting SHELTER to 70555 to donate £3.