Mental health has become an increasingly significant reason for housing homeless people, an analysis of figures recorded by councils show.

According to a report placed in a Parliamentary library this month, the number of homeless people with mental health problem who qualified for council housing has risen by 38.7 per cent since 2010.

This compares with just 27 per cent for the overall increase in the number of people qualifying for a social homes as a result of homelessness applications to local authorities over the same period.

Under homelessness law, councils only need to find permanent social homes for people considered to be both homeless and in priority need.

Experts in homelessness and health put the increase down to the economic and health effects of the recession, cuts to social security payments and the pressure on health services.

Alex Bax, chief executive of Pathway, which works to improve health services for homeless people, said welfare cuts and pressures to move home could add to the precarious situation of some people with mental illness, potentially leading to breakdown and becoming homeless.

“Some of the rise is related to the more aggressive approach to welfare, [some to] more pressure on mental health services,” he added. “They have to move but [can] lack the personal capacity to organise themselves such that they can handle that.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “It is essential that people with mental health problems get support to meet all their needs, including housing. That’s why last year we invested £10m in a programme to support homeless people leaving hospital to make sure their health and housing needs are addressed.”