National charity Crisis records 25% increase in demand for its services, citing cost of living and lack of affordable housing 

National homelessness charity Crisis is urging party leaders in England to acknowledge the scale of the housing and homelessness crises after seeing an ‘unprecedented’ increase in demand for its services.  

Across its nine frontline services, Crisis has seen a 25% increase in demand over the past year. While the specific context varies in each area, the number of people approaching its services in Merseyside has increased by 39%. The service in Birmingham has seen a 35% rise in demand, and Brent 44%. Crisis’ frontline teams are reporting hundreds more people needing urgent help [1]. 

The picture in Brent  

The recent rise in demand across Crisis’ services has been most acute in Brent. In 2022, 642 people came to the Brent Skylight for support; in 2023, this had increased to 927 people – a 44% increase. The Brent service regularly opens with a queue of people outside the door. Nearly all are sleeping rough. 

Recent local government statistics show that, between January and September 2022, 2,065 households approached the council for homelessness support. For the same period in 2023, this increased to 2,369. There’s also a changing picture of who needs support. Younger people are struggling to find somewhere affordable to rent in the private sector. At the other end of the scale, the number of older people needing support has increased, with the oldest being 81 years old. 

The national picture 

More than 250,000 households across Great Britain are now experiencing the worst forms of homelessness. Record numbers of households are trapped in expensive and often unsuitable temporary accommodation in England (more than 112,000 households). Rough sleeping is again on the rise in England – up 27% from last year, the sharpest increase since 2015. Just 9,561 social homes were built last year, while 22,023 were either sold or demolished in England. 

Rising living costs, surging rents and a lack of affordable housing mean that thousands of people are struggling to find a safe and stable home across the country. Local services also indicate that people find it difficult to navigate tenancies and the welfare and benefits system. There are significant issues with overstretched and under-resourced services, such as for local councils, mental health and adult social care. 

Parties have laid out some plans for housing and homelessness in their manifestos [2]. Crisis is calling on party leaders to commit to establishing an Office for Ending Homelessness at the heart of government; build 90,000 new social homes a year; and invest in support services for people who need additional help to keep their home.   

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said:  

“Our services are seeing unprecedented numbers of people coming to them for help. Too many people are trapped in poor quality temporary accommodation, while too many are living on a knife edge wondering if they’ll be able to afford to keep a roof over their head. It’s appalling that anyone is forced to sleep rough, let alone people in their 60’s and 70’s who should be enjoying a secure retirement. 

“The next Government – whatever its makeup – needs to acknowledge the scale of this crisis and quickly demonstrate how it will end homelessness. We need someone with power at the heart of Government to coordinate efforts across departments, and for ministers to get thousands more social homes built every single year.  

“It won’t be easy, but with political will and determination we can ensure thousands of people have the stability of a safe home and, ultimately, build a future free from homelessness.” 


Notes to Editor 

[1] Crisis’ frontline teams are working hard to support people in accessing housing, benefits, healthcare services and employment opportunities. Last year, Crisis’ UK services helped over 1,350 people leave homelessness behind for good. 

For many people Crisis’ frontline services are the last line of defence. Over the past year, Crisis has reshaped its services to be able to help more people leave homelessness behind. This has meant providing more tailored support, including triaging cases, signposting people to other organisations, or taking people on as members through its own services. 

[2] So far the major parties have committed to the following: 


  • A continued commitment towards ending rough sleeping  
  • 1.6m homes in the next Parliament (no specific number of social homes) 
  • A Renters Reform Bill alongside court reforms to end no-fault evictions 


  • A cross-government strategy to end all forms of homelessness 
  • 1.5m new homes over the next parliament, with a commitment to ‘the biggest increase in social and affordable housebuilding in a generation’ (no specific number of social homes) 
  • Reform of the private rented sector to immediately end no-fault evictions; new legal protections for tenants to improve standards; and a cap on the upfront costs of deposits and rent in advance tenants can be asked to pay 

Liberal Democrats 

  • A cross-Whitehall plan to end all forms of homelessness, alongside a commitment to ending rough sleeping within this parliament 
  • Building 150,000 social homes a year 
  • Reform of the private rented sector and an immediate end to no-fault evictions 
  • scrapping the 200-year old Vagrancy Act 
  • A ‘somewhere safe to stay’ legal duty to ensure that everyone at risk of sleeping rough is provided with emergency accommodation and an assessment of their needs 
  • sufficient resources for LAs to provide accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse 

Green Party  

  • 150,000 new social homes every year, including the purchasing and refurbishing of older housing stock and ending the individual ‘right to buy’ programme 
  • rent control powers for local authorities 
  • An end to no-fault evictions and ‘private residential tenancy boards’ to provide a forum for resolving disputes 

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