HIDDEN homelessness in England’s rural areas has risen by at least a third and people are resorting to sleeping in barns and outhouses, a think tank warned yesterday.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warned that it is particularly hard to prevent or relieve homelessness in the countryside because of the difficulties in covering larger areas.
Specialist resources are also far scarcer in rural districts than in cities.
The perception that the countryside is a “rural idyll” could “mask” the presence of households at risk of becoming homeless or already without a roof over their heads, the IPPR added.
Some 6,270 households were accepted as homeless in 2015-16 in 91 mainly or largely rural local authorities areas in England.
That is an average of 13 for every 10,000 households.
A fifth of all homeless cases occurred outside of England’s most urban areas.
IPPR research fellow Charlotte Snelling said: “Many people see homelessness and rough-sleeping as a problem which only affects England’s big cities.
“However, IPPR’s research shows that it is a real problem in rural areas too. It is often hidden, with people forced to bed down in in outhouses, barns, tents and parked cars.
“This isn’t something we simply have to accept: building more affordable homes alongside putting in the right support from government would do much to tackle this issue.
“This will require politicians, both locally and nationally, to accept their responsibility to change things and put in place a much better strategy to do this.”
From 2010 to 2016, mainly rural local authorities recorded a 32 per cent increase in rough-sleepers, while in largely rural areas there was a 52 per cent rise.