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Select one of the topics from 'Social Problems in the the UK: An Introduction'. This could be a sub-topic. For example, in the chapter on poverty you may choose homelessness. Or in the chapter on youth gangs you might choose girl gangs. Check your chosen area with THREE other academic texts (not media/newspaper internet sites) undertake research that further explores the topic beyond the details of the chapter from our main textbook. 

Defining Poverty in the UK

Poverty is a social issue that affect many societies. Isaacs et al. (2014) attribute poverty to income gaps between people depending on individual earnings. More often, using household income to measure poverty always reveal that most people earn below the average. Isaacs et al. (2014) acknowledge Seebohm Benjamin Rowntree as one of the people who pushed for people to have a basic minimum income provided by the state to allow subsistence living. Further, people who lived below the poverty line are considered poor. The government set a standard measure for the poor, the household below average income (HBAI). Subsequently, the government gave help to those people who lived below 40 percent of the average income.  

The government report, 2010/2011 in the United Kingdom (UK) indicate that 3.6 million, 27 percent of children were living in HBIA homes. Moreover, Isaacs et al. (2014) recommend quantitative indicators to measure poverty in the UK, the cost of living, the gap between rich and poor, and historical shifts. However, Isaacs et al. (2014) argue that some aspects of poverty are socially constructed, where such individuals are work-shy welfare dependents, lazy, and happy to get support from hard-working citizens. In essence, all these aspects of the social construction of poverty cause homelessness. In this regard, these poor people face social exclusion, where some end up staying in the streets.

Notably, Isaacs et al. (2014) consider homeless people living in the streets as probably old, drunk, and smelly accompanied with a sad looking dog as they beg for money. In England, an estimated 1600 to 3000 rough sleepers are in the streets. Furthermore, in 2011, the government officially recognized 1.8 million homeless people in the UK that represented a 14 percent increase from 2010 (Isaacs et al. 2014). The government acknowledges them as being homeless since they do not have an appropriate, secure, and permanent home to live in. Clearly, homelessness thrives more where there are social exclusion and poverty. Isaacs et al. (2014) attribute homelessness to lack of political will and increase in population growth rate as well as migration into towns. Another cause of homelessness is individual circumstances that push people out of family and friend's residences (Bramley and Fitzpatrick 2018), relationship breakdown, old people on low income, joblessness, domestic violence, and friends moving away, probably relocating. Above all, homelessness is a problem in the UK.

Despite legislating on Homeless Persons Act of 1977, many people still stay in the streets. The local authorities mainly considered women with children as most deserving. Consequently, other Acts came into place but the problem persists in the UK. As such, this report aims to cover specialist literature on up to date facts and statistics, different social science perspectives, government policy, and conclusion with a summary of the discussion. 

Causes of Homelessness and Social Exclusion

It is the responsibility of the government to help people threatened with homelessness or homeless people (Fitzpatrick et al. 2017). In Scotland, Wales, and England, councils are responsible for homelessness whereas there is a single organization responsible for housing in Northern Ireland (Full Fact 2018). Even though every country have different approaches to handling homelessness, authorities have to provide people who meet immigration status where to live but not to those who intentionally become homeless.

Between October 1st and December 17th, 2017, local authorities took action to relieve and prevent homelessness for 52,440 households. This represented an increase of 3 percent since during the same quarter in 2016, local council relieved and prevented homelessness for 50,840 households. In addition, on 31st December 2017, the number of temporary accommodation rose from 75,740 in 2016 to 78,930. The rise occasioned a 4 percent increase in 2017 (MHCLG 2018).

In England, the councils provide homeless persons who have ‘priority need' where to live (MHCLG 2018). These groups comprise of vulnerable people for various reasons, people in emergency after fire or flood, or families with children. Further, such people must not have become homeless deliberately or failed to do anything that resulted in their plight. During 2016/2017, about 59,000 households got housing assistance from the council.  This number has been on the rise since 2009/2010, which represent about 50 percent rise. In another word, the council accepted 135,000 households in 2003/2004.

Notwithstanding, Statista (2018) reports that around 20 percent of the UK households are earning less than 299 British pounds per week. Many lead low standard of living despite the UK being one of the most developed countries in the world. From this view, 81 percent of people between 25 and 34 years earn their income from wages. This distribution of total gross household income from salaries and wages indicate that when a person between 25 and 34 years losses a job, they may probably end up homeless. Furthermore, in 2015/2016 8.1 thousand became homeless in London. Among the reported rough sleepers, 85 percent were male. This finding echoes Isaacs et al. (2014) sentiments that local council consider women with children as the priority need group. Moreover, the majority of rough sleepers on the streets of London are whites. According to ethnic distribution of rough sleepers, two-thirds are of white origin (Statista 2018). Among these people, 30 percent of them are of the age between 36 and 45 years old. Additionally, on the streets of London, Westminster had two thousand more people sleeping on the streets than Camden according to 2016 reports (Statista 2018).

Government Policy on Homelessness

Full Fact (2018) reports that many people are homeless but does not qualify for priority need basis. In particular, over 20,000 cases found homeless did not qualify for uptake in 2017. Those who do not qualify to get advice from the council to get alternative accommodation but do not provide them with homes to live. Nevertheless, those who are homeless and are in priority need group only get short-term accommodation as they plan for other alternatives. 

Rough sleeping

It is the most visible form of homelessness. These groups of people often sleep on the street corners. Unfortunately, rough sleepers suffer from multiple health conditions like drug misuse and mental health problems (McCarthy 2013). Besides, they are exposed to the danger of violence from the public. Fitzpatrick et al. (2017) report that the national number of rough sleepers rose by 132 percent since 2010. Between 2016 and 2017, rough sleeping has risen by 51 percent whereas that of England rose by 16 percent in the last one year. Besides, data collected show an upward trend of rough sleepers since 2010, as that of London rise by 104 percent. However, in the second quarter of 2016/2017, rough sleeping has slightly decreased in London. The number reduced from 2,689 to 2,638 (Fitzpatrick et al. 2017). Of note, there is an increase in rough sleeping in the UK. The overall data show an increase of 6 percent in the second quarter in 2016/2017 compared with that of 2015/2016. Additionally, in 2016, England reported 4,800 as rough sleepers. It represented 16 percent increase from 2015 (Adebowale 2018) while more than double the number is in 2010 which stood at 1800.

Hidden homelessness

These people do not approach local council for help or are not entitled to help with housing, and thus do not form part of official statistics of the homeless. Majority of them stay in concealed housing, overcrowded accommodation, squats, or even in hotels. Concealed housing in this circumstance refers to sofas or floors of friends and family. Consistent with of Fitzpatrick et al. (2017), there were estimated 2.27 million households that concealed single persons in England by early 2016. Additionally, other 288,000 were concealed lone parents and couples during the same time. Currently, the number of adults in concealed households is approximately 3.34 million (Fitzpatrick et al. 2017).

Statutory homelessness

The local council has a duty of securing homes for various groups of people. Every year, people apply for consideration concerning their homelessness. Those who can be legally declared as homeless must lack a reasonable place to stay or lack a secure place where they are entitled to live. In this regard, between 2009/2010 and 2012/2013, the number of statutory homeless people increased from 89,000 to 113,000 (Fitzpatrick et al. 2017). In the same way, households, accepted as homeless by the government rose by 34 percent over the same period. Consequently, there was a stabilization in the number of national statutory homelessness caseloads. This saw a rise by only 2 percent in 2015/2016.

Legislation Addressing Homelessness

In the same way, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) (2018) reports that local authorities accepted 13,640 households between October 1st and December 17th, 2017 as being statutory homeless. The council considered this group as of priority need and unintentionally homeless. 

Government policy on homelessness

According to Homelessness Reduction Act of 2017, which came into effect at the beginning of April 2018, local authorities in England are expected to relieve and prevent homelessness for everyone, comprising the ones who are not in the priority group (MHCLG 2018). As such, the government set aside £73 million for local authorities to cater for the new adjustments (Full Fact 2018). In this regard, the governing policy requires the council to put people in temporary accommodation as they sort their claims. These temporary shelters usually include private rentals, council housing, and hostels.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill outlines strategies for reducing homelessness in the UK. The law requires councils to map out individuals who are at the risk of becoming homeless eight weeks before losing their home. The government disbursed money to councils to facilitate implementation of the law (Sawe 2017).

Other key legislation that has been addressing homelessness include; the Housing Act 1996, the Homelessness Act 2002, and the Localism Act 2011 places which require local housing authorities to assist people who are threatened with homelessness as well as those who are homeless (MHCLG 2018). The policy requires mandatory consideration of all applicants seeking assistance in obtaining accommodation or accommodation. 

Social science perspectives on homelessness

Nooe and Patterson (2010); PLoS Medicine (2008); McCarthy (2013) note that homelessness results from the interaction of environmental circumstances and socio-economic structures with individual conditions. It manifests itself as chronic, episodic, or on a temporal continuum as situational. As time goes by, homeless persons may change in housing status which may comprise of incarceration in correctional facilities, hospitalization, permanent housing, transitional housing, emergency shelter, shared dwellings, or being on the street. Intuitively, episodes of homelessness result in social and individual consequences, which affect a person's interaction with the community as well as endangers individual wellbeing (Lee, Tyler, and Wright, 2010; Shelton et al. 2009).

With this in mind, Adebowale (2018) assert that homelessness indicates a fundamental breakdown in a person's life. More revelations by Homeless Link, a charity, shows that 4 out of 5 homeless people may have some form of mental health problem. A bigger percentage of homeless people struggle with alcohol or drug misuse as well as physical illness (Hutchinson, Page, and Sample 2014). As such, a third of these homeless people admit having been admitted to an emergency department (Adebowale 2018). 

Statistics on Homelessness in the UK

Nevertheless, Bramley and Fitzpatrick (2018) oppose the generalization of the cause of homelessness as complex. The duo argues that such sentiments on homelessness create an impression that homelessness is fairly randomly distributed and thus its causes are largely immeasurable, and efforts geared towards predicting and preventing homelessness is doomed to fail. However, homelessness is a social problem that the authorities can take control over (Fitzpatrick et al. 2012; Benjaminsen 2016). As such, Adebowale (2018) agree that it is possible to take actions that can prevent premature deaths which usually result from homelessness. The scholar applauds the government intervention by sponsoring Homelessness Reduction Act to continue housing homeless families. Homelessness is inevitable and thus its emergence is systemic. It shows that faults exist in policies across housing and health that needs fixing.


Homelessness in a social issue that affecting many societies. In the UK, the government, through local authorities have enacted legislation that is currently addressing homelessness. Many homeless people have got accommodation based on priority need. However, the government directive requires local authorities to listen to every applicant in their pursuit of accommodation. Some types of homelessness include; statutory, hidden and rough sleeping. Besides, Many social scientists acknowledge that homelessness does not only mean accommodation but also individual problems people face. 


Adebowale, V., 2018. There is no excuse for homelessness in Britain in 2018. BMJ, 360, p.k902.

Bramley, G. and Fitzpatrick, S., 2018. Homelessness in the UK: who is most at risk?. Housing Studies, 33(1), pp.96-116.

Benjaminsen, L., 2016. Homelessness in a Scandinavian welfare state: The risk of shelter use in the Danish adult population. Urban Studies, 53(10), pp.2041-2063.

Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. and Watts, B., 2017. The homelessness monitor: England 2013. Institute for Housing, Urban and Real Estate Research, Heriot-Watt University.

Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G. and Wilcox, S., 2012. The homelessness monitor: Great Britain 2012. London: Crisis, p.14.

Full Fact, 2018. Homelessness in England.  [Online] Available from: (Accessed 17 April 2018).

Hutchinson, S., Page, A. and Sample, E., 2014. Rebuilding Shattered Lives. The Final Report. London: St Mungo's.

Isaacs, S., Blundell, D., Foley, A., Ginsburg, N., McDonough, B., Silverstone, D. and Young, T., 2014. Social Problems in the UK: An Introduction. Routledge.

Lee, B.A., Tyler, K.A. and Wright, J.D., 2010. The new homelessness revisited. Annual review of sociology, 36, pp.501-521.

MHCLG, 2018. Statutory homelessness, prevention, and relief, October to December (Q4) 2017: England. Housing Statistical Release. [Online] Available from: 17 April 2018).  McCarthy, L., 2013. Homelessness and identity: a critical review of the literature and theory. People, place and policy online, 7(1), pp.46-58.

Nooe, R.M. and Patterson, D.A., 2010. The ecology of homelessness. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 20(2), pp.105-152.

PLoS Medicine Editors, 2008. Homelessness is not just a housing problem. PLoS medicine, 5(12), p.e1000003.

Shelton, K.H., Taylor, P.J., Bonner, A. and van den Bree, M., 2009. Risk factors for homelessness: evidence from a population-based study. Psychiatric Services, 60(4), pp.465-472.

Sawe, B.E., 2017. An Overview of Homelessness in the United Kingdom. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 17 April 2018).

Statista, 2018. Homelessness in the UK - Statistics & Facts. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 17

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