A new report suggests that the number of young homeless people in the UK is substantially higher than the official government figures.
The new study by housing experts at Cambridge University found that 83,000 young people who are homeless have had to rely on councils and charities for a roof over their heads during the past year.
That number is more than three times higher than the 26,852 young people recorded in homeless figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
There are also around 35,000 young people in homeless accommodation at any one time across Britain.
Even more worrying is the research adds that the figure is “a minimum estimate and it is likely that in reality more homeless young people access support across the UK”.
The study, by Cambridge University’s Centre for Housing and Planning Research, was commissioned by the homeless charity Centrepoint. It draws on official figures alongside examinations of 40 local authorities and a national poll of more than 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds.
The research looked at homelessness during the course of a year, and took into account rough sleeping, staying in hostels and “sofa-surfing”.
The reason for the glaring difference between these new figures and those released by the government is reportedly because the official criteria for being classed as homeless is extremely narrow. Those who do not fit into the slim category, are not counted.
Many homeless people do not come into contact with their local authority, and those that do are often considered to be “intentionally homeless” or not in a “priority need” category such as being under 18 or pregnant, the study states.
More than one in seven young people (17%) have slept rough during the past year, according to a ComRes survey done for the study – that’s an estimated 1.3 million young people aged 16 to 24!
The research concludes that the legitimate figures are essential if the true scale of the problem is to be understood and so young people can receive the funding and help they desperately need.
Charities including CentrePoint and Shelter have said that the new statistics paint a very grim picture of youth homelessness in the UK, while successive governments have completely failed to grasp the sheer scale of the issue.