Homelessness Surpasses First-Time Home Purchases in England

In a stark revelation by activist group Generation Rent, recent government data has unveiled a troubling trend in England’s housing landscape: for the first time on record, more households were rendered homeless than those managing to purchase their first home in the year leading up to 30 September 2023. This development has been described as “a whole new level of horror” within the housing system.

According to government statistics on Stamp Duty Land Tax, only 126,100 households were able to buy a home during this period, a significant drop from 264,400 in the previous year. Concurrently, homelessness figures have risen, with 164,630 households finding themselves without a home and in need of council assistance for homelessness relief, an increase from 148,110 the year before.

Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, expressed grave concerns over these findings, stating, “The housing system has been in crisis for many years, but these latest figures reveal a shift to a whole new level of horror. Instead of helping people get on in life, the housing system is now hauling us backwards.” He urged the government to overcome obstacles posed by vested interests and to take decisive action in protecting tenants and constructing the necessary homes to accommodate the population’s needs.

Echoing Twomey’s sentiments, Matt Downie, chief executive of the homelessness charity Crisis, labeled the extent of rough sleeping as a “source of national shame” indicative of profound inequality within society. He shared harrowing accounts of the dehumanization faced by those living on the streets, including being spat at, urinated on, or attacked. Downie called for a comprehensive governmental strategy to address homelessness, highlighting the need for long-term investment in proven solutions like Housing First and a commitment to significantly increase social housing construction.

This alarming discrepancy between homelessness and first-time home purchases underscores the deepening crisis in England’s housing system, necessitating urgent and substantial policy interventions to ensure the basic human right of secure and stable housing for all citizens.