Europe

EU citizens living in UK three times more likely to sleep rough than Britons

Pensioner faces homelessness after making bank transfer error

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The research conducted by Crisis, and led by Heriot-Watt University and the Institute for Public Policy Research, is the first of its kind to explore the scale, causes and impact of homelessness experienced by people from the European Economic Area (EEA) who have made their home in Britain. It found that job loss was the main reason for Europeans living in Britain ending up homeless.

Of all those homeless across Britain, 22,200 are originally from EEA countries, about nine percent of the total.

EEA citizens in Britain have been disproportionately affected by job losses over the last 18 months, according to the research.

In March 2020, before the pandemic, 25 percent of homeless EEA nationals were unemployed.

This figure jumped to 52 percent in the winter.

For those recently experiencing rough sleeping, about half cited job loss and financial difficulties as a cause.

For homeless Europeans who were in employment, insecure and exploitative work was a common problem, with 28 percent of people forced to put up with unacceptable employment conditions such as working without a contract and having an abusive employer.

Many were paid below the minimum wage or were not paid at all.

For those with recent experience of homelessness, nearly half had no income, with 87 percent living below the standard poverty line.

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “This research shines a light on the fact this foundation just isn’t there for many people who have made Britain their home.

“It’s unacceptable people originally from other European countries are experiencing homelessness here and aren’t able to access the system of support when something like a job loss or a health problem hits.”

Mr Sparkes added: “They want to contribute to their communities and given the shortage of workers in some industries right now, enabling people to do so will not only make a difference to our country but will also make a difference to these individuals and make sure they can leave homelessness behind for good.”

One rough sleeper from an EU member state who took part in the research said: “I worked for a person for seven months and that’s where I slept and received food.

“However, I didn’t get any money.”

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The rough sleeper added: “I didn’t get the money after seven months of work. So that’s why I was basically forced to live on the street … it was very hard.”

According to the latest Government figures, collected in the autumn of 2020 and published in February 2021, in England, 2,688 people are estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night.

Rough sleeping in the UK has increased by 52 percent since 2010.

The number of people registered as homeless in Britain is in excess of 220,000 people.

Around 12 million people in the UK are said to be living in poverty, five million of whom are children.

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