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New research shows sharp rise in ‘officially’ homeless

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  • 15/12/2003
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Falling poverty and mortgage arrears levels across the UK have not prevented a sharp rise in the num...

Falling poverty and mortgage arrears levels across the UK have not prevented a sharp rise in the number of families officially classed as homeless and living in temporary accommodation, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The foundation’s annual report: Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2003 said the majority of the worst off live in social housing. Half of all social housing tenants are poor, compared with one in six people living in other housing tenures. Poor is defined as having an income 60% or less of the median £273 per week for a couple with two children or £114 for a single person.

For those seeking a foot onto the property ladder, right to buy is the often the only option. However, this posed different problems depending on what part of the country tenants lived in.

Specialist right to buy broker James Redfern, pointed out that poverty is relative, with right to buy far harder in the South, even for those not ‘officially’ poor. He said: “In the North you could be looking at a purchase price of around £50,000, but in the South, even with the discount, property prices are out of proportion to earnings, and tenants on good wages cannot afford them.”

While the East and South East stand out as being poorer than Britain as a whole, inner London is the most unequal part of the country, combining the highest proportions of both rich (29% of people in the richest 20% nationally) and poor people (32% in the poorest 20%) anywhere in Britain.

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