England

Shelter sees help pleas rise in South East

A housing charity has said it has seen a 40% rise in people asking for its help in the South East over the past two years.

Shelter said it received 5,650 calls between 2013 and 2014.

It claims that a shortage of affordable housing has led to the rise.

Homelessness minister Kris Hopkins said the government had delivered more than 200,000 affordable homes in England since 2010 and rents had fallen in real terms every year in the same period.

Shelter helpline adviser Nadeem Khan said: "It's so heartbreaking to hear from families struggling to keep a roof over their heads, especially around this time of year."

The charity said the number of people at risk of homelessness that called its South East helpline between October 2013 to September 2014 was 5,650, up 40% on the 4,023 calls it received between October 2011 and September 2012.

'Increased spending'

Shelter categorises someone "at risk of homelessness" as a person who is, or is at risk of, living on the street and someone who needs to make a homeless application.

They also count people who have been evicted or whose tenancy has come to an end with no alternative accommodation in place, or someone suffering from major rent or mortgage arrears who is likely to be evicted or have their home repossessed.

Mr Hopkins said: "Thanks to government funding, Shelter is able to offer this advice and support to the homeless.

"This is part of increased spending to prevent homelessness, with over £500m made available to help the most vulnerable in society.

"This is to ensure we don't return to the bad old days when homelessness in England was nearly double what it is today."

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