Black people are nearly five times as likely to experience homelessness in Swindon as all other ethnic groups.

Housing charity Shelter criticised 'deep inequality and systemic racism' within the housing system, and warned the legacy of the coronavirus pandemic must not be one of rising homelessness.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows 890 households were entitled to help from Swindon Borough Council relating to homelessness in the year to March.

Of the lead applicants, 6.2 per cent were black, while black households make up only 1.4 per cent of the area’s population, according to the latest census.

The figures means black people were 4.8 times more likely to experience homelessness, with roughly one in 22 black households in Swindon becoming homeless or being threatened with homelessness last year. This is compared to one in 107 households from all other ethnic groups combined.

Across England, around 10.7 per cent of lead applicants from households entitled to council help were black, while black people comprise roughly 3.6 per cent of the country’s population.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: “We must act fast, because the pandemic we are now enduring is only intensifying the housing emergency and its destructive inequalities.

“We can’t allow the legacy of Covid-19 to be one of rising homelessness and shattered lives,” she said.

Figures show that overall in England, white and Asian households were less likely to be homeless last year, with 69.8 per cent of homeless households with a white lead applicant, while white people make up 84.6 per cent of the population. Asian lead applicants accounted for 6.3 per cent of the homeless applications, despite making up 8.1 per cent of the population.

David Renard, borough council leader and housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are doing all they can to make sure everyone gets the housing support they need. However it is clearly a concern BAME people are disproportionately affected by homelessness and we'd encourage the government to review why this is the case.”

An MHCLG spokesman said the Homelessness Reduction Act is ensuring more people get help. He said: “We’re committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness and ending rough sleeping. The government has allocated over half a billion pounds this year to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society.”