London sees 43% rise in rough sleeping
The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of London has increased 43 per cent in the last year.
Figures released this morning from charity Broadway’s combined homelessness and information network database show the number of rough sleepers rose to 5,678 in 2011/12.
The Chain database is commissioned and funded by the Greater London Authority, and contains information gathered by outreach teams across the capital.
The latest figures cast doubt on the possibility that the London mayor’s target of ending rough sleeping by the end of the year can be met. The target defines rough sleeping as spending more than one night on the street.
Broadway’s Street to home bulletin, which contains the figures, notes 3,825 of the rough sleepers counted in the last year were new to the streets, and 70 per cent of them did not spend a second night out – meaning they would not be counted as rough sleepers for the purposes of the mayor’s target.
However this still leaves a substantial core group of rough sleepers on the streets with only six months to go before the target must be achieved.
Despite the increase in the figures Broadway said more work is being carried out to tackle rough sleeping, particularly through the No Second Night Out project, which helped 1,402 people during the year.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of Broadway, said: ‘The figures released today are a concern for everyone. However, the really good work that is being undertaken by teams and services across London is clear.
‘The overall level of need shows how essential it is for us all not only to respond swiftly once people lose their homes, but also to turn our attention to preventing homelessness and family breakdown. We need to ensure we do not see a return to the levels of rough sleeping in London that were in evidence 20 years ago.’
Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of umbrella body Homeless Link, said: ‘These figures confirm once again that the recession is fuelling a rise in rough sleeping across England, a situation that some of the government’s welfare reforms could make worse. However, thanks to a joined-up approach by charities, the mayor of London and councils in London, those who do end up on London’s streets are getting helped more quickly and fewer spend a second night out.’
Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson said mayor Boris Johnson has failed to defend London against cuts.
‘The mayor’s aim of ending rough sleeping is a distant dream if things continue in this direction. When I have raised these concerns in recent months the mayor has been dangerously complacent, unwilling to call for radical changes.’