Thousands of British families homeless despite being in work

Even families with wage earners are struggling to join the housing market. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 July 2018

Thousands of British families homeless despite being in work

  • More than 33,000 working families do not have a stable place to live, a 73 percent rise from 2013
  • Overall, homelessness has risen in England for more than six years, with 80,000 families in temporary accommodation including more than 120,000 children

LONDON: More than half of homeless families in Britain now have at least one adult in work after a sharp rise in the number of employed people unable to afford a secure home, a leading homelessness charity said on Monday.

More than 33,000 working families do not have a stable place to live, a 73 percent rise from 2013, according to a study by Shelter’s social housing commission that blamed rising private rents, a freeze on benefits and a shortage of social housing.

“It’s disgraceful that even when families are working every hour they can, they’re still forced to live through the grim reality of homelessness,” said Shelter CEO Polly Neate in a statement.

“In many cases, these are parents who work all day or night before returning to a cramped hostel or B&B (bed and breakfast) where their whole family is forced to share a room.

“A room with no space for normal family life like cooking, playing or doing homework.”

Mary Smith, 47, works full time in retail and lives in a hostel near London with her three sons after she was evicted by her landlord and became unable to afford private rent.

“I was brought up by a very proud Irish woman, and taught that you don’t discuss things like your finances - so letting my colleagues at work know what’s happening is very hard,” said Smith in a statement.

“I’m not hopeful for our future. I think it’s going to be this constant, vicious circle of moving from temporary place to temporary place, when all my family want is to settle down.”

Overall, homelessness has risen in England for more than six years, with 80,000 families in temporary accommodation including more than 120,000 children, government data shows.

Losing a tenancy is now the single biggest cause of homelessness in Britain, accounting for 27 percent of all households accepted as homeless in the last year, said Shelter.

The proportion of working homeless families, from security guards to hotel workers, has increased at different rates across Britain, with the East Midlands and North West England faring the worst, the report found.

It defines working families as those where at least one adult is in work.

Despite this, homeless charity Crisis said last month that Britain could end homelessness within a decade if it invested more in social housing and welfare benefits.

Britain’s parliament last year passed the Homelessness Reduction Act, which was designed to ensure that local councils increased obligations towards homeless people.

The government has also set an ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.


India’s top court ends Babri Mosque case hearings

Updated 3 min 17 sec ago

India’s top court ends Babri Mosque case hearings

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday concluded the hearing of the Babri Mosque case, which is built on land claimed by Muslims and Hindus.

The case is to settle a land title dispute between Muslims and Hindus over plans to build a temple on the site. A five-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is expected to issue a verdict next month.

It is more than 25 years since a Hindu mob demolished the 16th-century mosque, located in the town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. Nationalists claim Mughal emperor Babur demolished an ancient temple in order to construct a mosque. Once the mosque was pulled down, rioting and violence broke out across India and thousands were killed.

The primary agitator behind the riots, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), emerged from the bloodshed with its reputation enhanced and proceeded to expand its political footprint across the country. 

“The matter is to be decided on three grounds. One count is the legal battle, that is, whose land is this,” Delhi-based political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay told Arab News. “The second ground is the matter of faith from the Hindu side. Regardless of the legality of the land, it is a matter of faith, which cannot be proven in a court of law and belief cannot be disputed. The third is a matter of tradition. Now the court has to decide which side of the argument it is going to rest its matter on.” 

The case was also a test for the Indian judiciary, he said, adding: “Besides, the BJP will exploit the situation either way. If the verdict goes in their favor they will claim victory, if not then they will exploit the Hindu sentiment for a new mobilization.”

In 2010, the Allahabad High Court ruled that the site of the razed mosque would be divided between Hindus and Muslims, with two-thirds being allocated to Hindus, who would be allowed to keep a makeshift temple they had constructed there. Both sides, however, challenged the order and the ruling was suspended.

In March this year, Gogoi set up a three-member mediation panel to resolve the contentious issue. The panel failed in its mission to reconcile the warring parties.

In August, he decided to hold daily hearings of the case and, on Monday, wound up all the hearings from 14 petitioners.

Gogoi retires from his post next month and has expedited the process so he can deliver the verdict before he steps down. 

The Hindu petitioners pleaded on the grounds of faith. They argued that the dispute concerned the faith of the majority community and that the matter could not be treated as a normal civil dispute. Muslim petitioners said they were the original titleholders of the land and therefore it belonged to them.