Rough sleeping goes up 13 per cent in London
The number of rough sleepers in London has gone up 13 per cent in the past year, according to statistics commissioned by the Greater London Authority and local authorities.
Homelessness charity Broadway released figures today showing the number of people seen sleeping on the streets of the capital between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013 was 6,437 compared to 5,678 the previous year.
Just over half of those seen rough sleeping were non-UK nationals (53 per cent). Twenty-eight per cent of these were from central and eastern Europe.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of Broadway, said while this was ‘concerning’ 75 per cent of new rough sleepers to the streets – 3,255 out of 4,353 – were only seen sleeping rough once.
This was an improvement on 2011/12 when 70 per cent of newcomers to the street were seen sleeping out for more than one night and 62 per cent in 2010/11.
This could be attributed to the success of the No Second Night Out scheme, that has now been running for two years and aims to stop new people to the streets spending a second night there. Fifty-one per cent of new rough sleepers to the streets attended NSNO, the 2012/13 Street to Home report shows.
Mr Sinclair added: ‘While we acknowledge and welcome the significant investment made in services for rough sleepers in London, and the positive impact of that investment, we are clear that we need to maintain a similar investment level in preventative services so as to stop people arriving on the streets in the first place.’
Mark McPherson, director of regions and practice for umbrella group Homeless Link, said: ‘The rise in rough sleeping is obviously concerning. London is leading the way in terms of finding and helping new rough sleepers. However, these figures underline the need to better target effective advice and support before individuals end up on the streets of the capital.’
The figures also revealed that 12 per cent of those sleeping rough in London over the past year were female (786) and 3 per cent (145) of the UK nationals on the streets were known to have served in the armed forces at some point.
The Street to Home report is compiled by Broadway from figures gathered by London outreach teams from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network. Eighty projects contribute to the CHAIN database, which holds comprehensive data on rough sleeping and the street population in London.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: ‘The mayor of London pledged to eliminate rough sleeping in the capital by 2012. Instead we see today the number of people sleeping on London’s streets – in absolute destitution in one of the world’s richest cities – has more than doubled on Boris’s watch.
‘He has the power to build tens of thousands more genuinely affordable homes and can protect services that prevent and solve homelessness, plus the clout to influence central government to reverse housing benefit cuts that have proved so damaging and are directly causing Londoners to fall into homelessness and rough sleeping. Continuing failure to do so will lead to more of his citizens facing the horrors of life on the streets.’ The number of rough sleepers in 2012/13 was a 62 per cent rise on 2010/11 (3,975).
London Assembly Green Party Member Darren Johnson said: ‘The mayor [of London] has helped more people off the streets, but he has failed to tackle the reasons why they end up there in the first place.
‘In these tough times people need secure and affordable housing, especially if their life has taken a turn for the worse. But the mayor has supported cuts to our welfare safety net, overlooked damaging cuts to homelessness services and opposed reforms to our insecure private rented sector. If he doesn’t change course, his aim of ending rough sleeping will remain a distant dream.’
Charles Fraser, homelessness charity St Mungo’s chief executive, said: ‘It is shocking that rough sleeping numbers continue to rise and yet more people are being woefully failed. Without urgent action, we are in danger of seeing a decade of destitution and despair.’