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Homelessness figures 'hiding wider problems'

Official homelessness figures could be hiding the scale of the UK's housing affordability crisis, a new report claims.The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) reveals that while the number of homeless people has remained fairly constant over the past year, the number of people sleeping rough or living in temporary accommodation has grown.In addition, the number of repossessions by landlords has grown and the number of households living in temporary accommodation outside their local area has risen by more than a third.The statistics are contained in the CIH's UK Housing Review Briefing, which brings together information from a number of sources to assess the state of Britain's housing system.Government figures released last week (June 19th) show 52,260 people were accepted as homeless during the 2013-14 financial year - a three per cent reduction on the 2012-13 figure.However, there was a six per cent rise in the number of households that were in temporary accommodation on March 31st 2014, bringing the figure to 58,590.The number of households in temporary accommodation in another local authority district climbed by 36 per cent, from 9,130 to 12,430.Repossessions by landlords also reached their highest level in a decade in the first quarter of 2014, rising to 47,220. Social landlords account for two-thirds of these repossessions and this suggests increased levels of action to tackle rent arrears.According to the latest count of people sleeping rough across England, in Autumn 2013 there were 2,414 such individuals - a five per cent increase in numbers.CIH chief executive Grainia Long said: "The slight fall in statutory homelessness is of course welcome, but that headline figure hides a disturbing picture of suffering for increasing numbers of vulnerable people.  "It is extremely worrying to see increases in the number of people living in unsuitable temporary accommodation - in many cases outside their local community - and being forced to sleep on the streets." 

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