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Islington Council ‘turns away’ more than two-thirds of ‘homeless’ families, Greens claim

PUBLISHED: 13:57 21 April 2016 | UPDATED: 14:42 21 April 2016

A file image of a homeless man in central London (Picture: Press Association)

A file image of a homeless man in central London (Picture: Press Association)

Press Association Images

More than two thirds of people claiming to be homeless in Islington are “turned away” by Islington Council – the highest figure in London.

How many ‘homeless’ families did councils class as being in ‘priority need’?

Tower Hamlets 80% (153 of 191)

Haringey 74% (170 of 231)

Hackney 71% (279 of 392)

Camden 48% (11 of 23)

Islington 32% (74 of 228)

Source: Green Party. Figures cover July to September 2015, the most recent period for which data are available

A Green Party study says just 32 per cent of people claiming to be homeless in the borough between July and September last year were granted “priority need” status – meaning the council had a legal duty to provide them with emergency or long-term housing – after an assessment.

By comparison, in nearby Tower Hamlets four-fifths of applications were accepted, with the figure standing at 71 per cent in neighbouring Hackney.

But the Town Hall insisted the Greens’ use of the phrase “turned away” was misleading, saying people not deemed to be in priority need would be offered advice and help with benefits.

Councils across the capital accept an average of half their homeless applicants as being in priority need, according to the data.

Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry accused councils of deliberately interpreting rules to artificially reduce homeless figures – a claim Islington Council denied.

“I’m worried the number of hidden homeless is rising even more rapidly than the official number of homeless people,” said Ms Berry.

“These figures give some idea of the magnitude of the human misery this housing crisis is creating.”

Green Islington councillor Caroline Russell described the Town Hall’s 32pc acceptance rate for “homeless” people as “utterly shameful”, claiming it was forcing families out of the borough.

A council spokesman said: “We do everything we can to prevent people in Islington from becoming homeless. Last year, we housed more than 1,000 households and prevented more than 520 households from becoming homeless.

“This included more than 200 who were able to remain in their homes – for example, as a result of us negotiating with their landlord on their behalf and preventing an unlawful eviction.”

The spokesman said the council carefully considered every homelessness application against national criteria, adding the most vulnerable cases were given priority.

“Any resident who is not considered to be in ‘priority need’ can challenge this decision in court,” he said.

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