More likely to be homeless due to family and friends than changes in employment
One paycheck or one disagreement away from homelessness?
There’s that popular saying, that you are always just one paycheck away from homelessness. It is for that reason that you should always show kindness to those rough sleeping or asking for change. However, 2022 UK government data reveals that employment changes are a less common catalyst for losing a home than you may think. Instead, it is far more likely to be asked to leave by family and friends, leaving one without a safe place to call home.
The data, collected between October to December 2022 by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, shows the total number of households in England who were, at the time, owed a relief duty by the government. According to the housing and homelessness charity Shelter, a ‘relief duty applies when a local authority is satisfied that an applicant is homeless and eligible for assistance.’ The data is broken down, listing the different reasons for the initial loss or threat of loss of their last settled home.
As the graph below displays, an overwhelming amount of households who were owed a relief duty, lost, or were in threat of losing, their home due to ‘family or friends no longer willing to accommodate’. This makes up a staggering 31.5% of overall relief duties owed.
Whilst it isn’t clear what would cause family or friends to be unable or unwilling to accomodate, if you or someone you know is asked to leave by family or friends, Shelter provides information on the steps you can take to get help from your local council.
Other common reasons for loss of home are also related to personal relationships with the data showing domestic abuse to be the second highest cause, accounting for 16.4% of all those owed a relief duty. Additionally, a ‘non-violent relationship breakdown with partner’ is the fourth highest (7.8%).
Despite this, it is not to say that employment and personal finances don’t have any impact. Shelter data from 2019 shows that if 45% of private renters in England lost their jobs they would be unable to pay their rent for more than a month. Within the government data, it shows that a ‘reduction in employment income’ is one of the reasons for rent arrears to occur (when money is owed due to rent not being paid). However, this only accounts for 11.4% of all total rent arrears that resulted in the end of assured shorthold (AST) private rented tenancy.
The government data is also broken down into regions and local authorities in England, showing that those in London are most likely to be owed a relief duty consituting for 19.3% of all relief duties. This aligns with other data sources that show London to have the highest number of homeless people, with one in 58 being homeless in the capital according to Shelter data published earlier this year.
Within London, family and friends no longer being able to or willing to accomodate is once again the most frequent cause cited for loss of home, accounting for 35.5% of all households owed relief duties in London. Differing to the overall data for England, ‘reduction in empoyment income’ makes up only 1.9% of reasons for rent arrears in London that resulted in the end of AST. So even with London’s notoriously expensive living costs and competitive wages, it is still family and friends who may have a bigger impact on a person’s living situation. Whilst it is important to keep on top of personal finances and have back up plans if a job goes awry, it is equally key to maintaining healthy relationships with those we live with and setting clear boundaries to avoid being asked to leave.
If any of the topics covered have affected you, the following numbers may be useful:
Shelter’s Emergency Helpline: 0808 800 4444
(for if you are are homeless, have nowhere to stay tonight, are worried about losing your home in the next two months or are at risk of harm or abuse)
Streetlink: 0300 500 0914
(if you are worried about someone sleeping rough)
National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247
(If you are in an emergency situation please call 999 instead)