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Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research

Estimating the scale of youth homelessness in the UK

The lack of coherent national data on homelessness makes measuring the true scale of youth homelessness a real challenge. This in turn presents a challenge for those trying to end homelessness and for government to ensure effective allocation of funding so that young people receive the support they need.
Most data currently collected by governments across the UK relate to the statutory homeless; those found eligible for help under the Main Homelessness Duty. However, this provides only a limited picture of the scale of homelessness. Centrepoint commissioned us to carry out this research to produce an up-to-date estimate of the number of young people aged 16 to 24 experiencing homelessness during the course of a year.

Key findings:

  • Over 83,000 homeless young people have been accommodated by local authorities or homelessness services during 2013-14
  • Nine per cent of UK young people have slept in an ‘outside’ place in the last year, including on the street, in car parks or parks, because they had nowhere else to go
  • 26 per cent of UK young people have slept in an unsafe place because they had nowhere else to go. This equates to an estimated 1.3m young people aged 16 to 24
  • 35 per cent of UK young people have experience of sofa surfing which would suggest over a million 16-25 year olds having done so nationally

The summary and full report can be accessed here

An article in Social Inclusion can be found here

Centrepoint have produced this policy briefing in response to the research.

Cambridge TV ran an article on the research in a piece on Youth Homelessness.

And the lead researcher, Anna Clarke, has written a blog about undertaking the research, which you can read here.