Exclusive: Almost 9,000 in Leeds at risk of life on street

Graphic: Graeme Banderia
Graphic: Graeme Banderia
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The number of families and individuals in Leeds seeking help to keep a roof over their heads has risen by a staggering 226 per cent since the height of recession, the YEP can reveal.

Official figures show 8,368 actions to prevent or relieve homelessness were taken by Leeds City Council during 2015/16, up from 2,560 in 2009/10.

Brian Robson, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Brian Robson, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

A further 505 households were given accommodation after being declared as statutory homeless last year, while 13 people were sleeping rough.

It brings the total cases linked to homelessness in Yorkshire’s largest city to 8,886 – the highest of any local authority in the region and an increase of almost 200 per cent since 2009/10.

The soaring demand in Leeds contributed to a regional rise in homeless case work of a third.

Brian Robson, policy and research manager for housing at the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The figures on homelessness in the region are startling, but broadly consistent with the increase in homelessness caseloads right across England in recent years. We can solve homelessness, but it will take action from government, councils and housing providers.”

We can solve homelessness, but it will take action from government, councils and housing providers.

Brian Robson, of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

A march for the homeless is being held by campaigners in the city today.

The rise in homeless casework being undertaken in Leeds mirrors regional and national increases at a time when local authorities and charities are being asked to do more with less.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Helping the vulnerable and homeless remains an absolute priority for the council, and as part of our day-to-day work in the city, we offer with partners access to a wide range of support services and also a bed for the night to ensure that no one has to sleep on the streets.”

The city has a dedicated outreach service which offers accommodation and help to rough sleepers.

“While many will accept this offer of a bed for a night and assistance, some people will for personal or for complex reasons related to issues such as addiction, instead decide to continue sleeping on the streets,” the spokesman said.

Core cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol have all seen more significant rises in street sleepers than Leeds since 2010.

And figures from the Office for National Statistics show rough sleeper numbers fell from 15 in 2014 to 13 in 2015.

“A proactive approach is in place by the council to prevent homelessness, and it is positive news that this is working,” the spokesman said.

“We are the only Core City to see a reduction in the number of rough sleepers over the past two years.”