Beyond a Number: the scale of youth homelessness in the UK

To end youth homelessness, we need to know how many people experience homelessness and what happens to them when they seek help. Our Youth Homelessness Databank brings together all the information available to build the clearest picture possible, and estimates that 122,000 young people in the United Kingdom approached their council for help during the financial year 2020/21.

Executive summary

People who face homelessness when they are young are among the most vulnerable in our society. At a critical moment in their lives, effective support from councils and their partners can help the young person to find a stable home and a job. If this opportunity is missed, homelessness can rob them of their chance of a successful transition to adulthood, leaving some to spiral into a lifetime of exclusion.

The Youth Homelessness Databank tracks the number of young people approaching local authority homelessness teams across the UK. This year’s data reveals the scale of youth homelessness during the first year of the pandemic, showing that almost 122,000 young people approached their council for help despite measures put in place to limit the number of people experiencing homelessness. These included the eviction ban, the temporary uplift in Universal Credit and the Everyone In scheme.

Key findings and recommendations


  • 122,000 16-24 year olds were homeless or at risk of homelessness in the UK.
  • Only 37% of those who presented had a positive outcome, meaning their homelessness was successfully prevented or relieved, or they were housed under the main housing duty.
  • Family no longer willing or able to accommodate young people was the main reason for loss or threat of loss of the last settled home for young people aged 16-24.


  • The government should create a new cross-departmental strategy to end youth homelessness. This should ensure that there is a youth-specific emergency housing offer in every local authority so that young people facing homelessness can access age-appropriate accommodation up to the age of 25.
  • The government should require local authorities to report the number of homelessness presentations to give a fuller picture of levels of demand among young people (and older groups).
  • Make publicly available all HCLIC data broken by age to enable the government and those working in the homelessness sector to better understand how effectively the HRA is supporting young people.
  • To ensure that all young people who are facing homelessness get the support they need from local authorities, the Homelessness Code of Guidance (HCG) should be amended to clarify the obligations of local authorities at the presentation, initial interview, and assessment stage to ensure that all councils are aware of what is and is not acceptable practice