Homelessness has reached a record-high with more than 170,000 families and individuals experiencing destitution in an increase caused by a doubling of those sleeping rough or in tents, cars and public transport, a study suggests.
The scale of homelessness was 13% higher last year compared to 2012, with an increase seen every year in between, according to the research published on Sunday by charity Crisis.
Over five years in Great Britain, these types of precarious living are believed to have increased by around 100%.
The report estimates 170,800 households – a lone person or a group living at the same address such as a squat – are experiencing the most dire forms of homelessness compared to 151,600 in 2012.
Crisis’s chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for people who are homeless. While others are celebrating with family and friends, homeless people face a daily struggle just to stay safe and warm.
The report, carried out by Heriot-Watt University, also gives an insight into the diversity of the problem, saying there are 4,200 people aged 65-plus and 38,000 under 25s who are homeless.
On average they were dying at the age of 44 – a life expectancy nearly half that for people in stable housing – because of high rates of suicide, drug poisonings and alcohol-related issues.
Crisis is calling on governments to tackle the root causes of homelessness, which it attributes to a lack of social housing, welfare payments failing to cover private rents and a lack of homelessness prevention schemes.