Friday, 27 February 2015

Rough sleeping in England up by almost a quarter

The number of rough sleepers in England has risen by almost a quarter, according to the latest figures.

The Communities and Local Government department has today released its Rough Sleeping Statistics England paper which says that there were 2,181 people on the streets in autumn 2011.

The figure is a rise of 23 per cent from the autumn 2010 total, which said there were 1,768 rough sleepers in England.

The paper is the second annual statistical release following the introduction of revised guidance. Rough sleeping counts and estimates are single night snapshots of the number of people sleeping rough in local authority areas.

All 326 local housing authorities in England provided a figure with 53 councils providing a count and 273 an estimate.

London, the South East and the South West had the highest number of rough sleepers with 446, 430 and 337 respectively. The North East had the lowest number with 32.

Previous data from homelessness charity Broadway Combined Homelessness and Information Network shows that in 2010/11 there were 3,975 people seen sleeping rough in London - 8 per cent up on the previous year.

The data in CHAIN shows that of the 3,975 rough sleepers recorded, 52 per cent did not have UK nationality. Inside Housing reported in January on plans by eastern European embassies to support nationals sleeping rough in London to return home.

Today Grant Shapps, the housing minister, warned that people coming to the UK should make provisions to preventy them falling on tough times.

He said: ‘Non UK residents now account for over half the rough sleepers in our capital, so anyone heading here with tales of Dick Whittington in their head needs to realise that the streets of London and our other cities aren’t paved with gold. 

‘Those arriving from beyond our shores to try and carve out a future in England should come with a thought-through plan to avoid the risk of sleeping on the streets.’

The housing minister also pledged £18.5 million for councils to help tackle and prevent rough sleeping among single people, ensuring that nobody is turned away without clear and useful advice when they are most in need.

 Total of rough sleeping counts and estimates, by region, Autumn 2011

RegionTotalPercentage of England totalRate per 1,000 households
North East321.50.03
North West1496.80.05
Yorkshire and the Humber1506.90.07
East Midlands1888.60.10
West Midlands2079.50.09
East of England24211.10.10
South East43019.70.12
South West33715.50.15

Readers' comments (80)

  • Gavin: "The problem is, lack of any strong immigration policy is creating a huge problem that will grow ever larger at an unsustainable rate, unless something positive is done to control it."


    Our current government claims to be tough on immigration and tough on the causes of immigration. Their quotas meet with even the Mr Green philosophy and approval.

    What then do you see as an appropriate policy on immigration that also abides by international laws and treaties?

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  • Gavin Rider

    PlanB - having a policy is no damned use if the policy is not achieving the objective.

    We need to limit immigration to a level that is sustainable and which will be beneficial for the country and its existing residents.

    The government says it favours doing this, but so far it is failing to achieve any improvement. Immigration continues to rise and the pressures that it will put on our country's resources will be unsupportable.

    Clearly whatever we do has to be legal.

    Simply denying that there is a problem is neither helpful nor realistic.

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  • What would you propose the government do to achieve those aims?

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  • Gavin Rider

    Before anyone starts accusing me of xenophobia or of making racist or prejudiced comment in this forum, I am most definitely not.

    Everyone deserves to be treated equally. Nobody deserves to receive preferential treatment on the basis of their race any more than they deserve to be treated any worse on the grounds of race, colour, or any other "natural" differentiator (i.e. characteristics one is born with and cannot change).

    However, to find out whether equality is being achieved, one has to monitor the situation and that requires having ethnic and country-of-origin classifications in the data.

    Reference to these data is not "racist" nor is it prejudicial.

    Areas where I do believe that "differentiation" rightfully applies is in respect of a person's eligibility to live permanently in the UK and to draw certain benefits from the UK social care system. Eligibility should be based on nationality, approved permanent residency and/or contributions made to the tax and NI systems of the UK.

    I do not believe that it is right for EU nationals to be able to come to the UK and claim from our benefits system, thereby removing the obligation on their country of origin to support their own population. That is not what the EU was set up for. (If anyone knows whether there is a "balancing out" of such costs between member states, I would be grateful to have some details provided - I cannot find any).

    I also don't believe that it is right to conduct "positive discrimination" in order to try and promote an artificial "balance" in a workforce. Workers should be employed on the basis of their skills, ability, qualifications, experience etc., - they should not be employed simply to "massage" the numbers relating to ethnic balance.

    (It looks to me as if that is being done in the civil service in London, where the rate of employment of ethnic minorities appears to be higher than elsewhere, probably to redress the "balance" in the overall employment statistics).

    This view also applies to the selection of candidates who are put forward for election by the major political parties - it is wrong to limit candidates in a by-election to women only, for example, purely to try and "rebalance" the number of women present among the elected members in Parliament.

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  • Gavin Rider

    PlanB - not being an expert on immigration law, I don't really think my suggestions would be very relevant.

    What I do know is that those who are experts in this field and are employed to deal with it on our behalf should be getting their asses in gear and sorting it out.

    ...and those who keep denying there is any problem should keep their unobjective and uninformed opinions to themselves.

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  • Jon Southall

    Shapps makes the point that "those arriving from beyond our shores to try and carve out a future in England should come with a thought-through plan to avoid the risk of sleeping on the streets".

    This is sensible advice. You could give this advice to young people - "young people trying to carve out a decent life in England should have a thought-through plan for the future, to avoid the risk of sleeping on the streets". You could give this advice to anyone at any time. To think or not to think is a choice we all have to make, individually. We can avoid thinking about what it will take to live independently, but we cannot avoid the consequences.

    What no-one has been able to explain, satisfactorily, is why the problems of homelessness or rough sleeping is the responsibility or moral obligation of anyone other than those actually in that situation. Helping the homeless is an act of benevolence (a virtue). We should not be required/forced to be benevolent (what a strange concept that would be) - it should be a voluntary choice.

    It is the issue of people failing to provide for themselves, and the productive amongst us being *forced* to provide for them, which both 'strains' resources and is unjust.

    What immigration shows us is that it is not just people born in the UK who can end up failing to provide for themselves. Immigrants are blamed by the racists & xenophobes (you know who you are) because firstly there is the presumption that an immigrant will be dependent rather than independent (on what basis?), and when an immigrant is unable to provide for themselves, it is (in their view) somehow different to when a UK born person is similarly unable. Because of this *undeclared* difference, they argue for arbitrary controls on immigration.

    The root cause of the problem is actually economic dependence, which affects people of all nationalities. It raises the question, if we are not morally obligated or responsible for the situation rough sleepers are in, should the Government intervene, and should we consent to pay taxes for this purpose?

    My answer is no. The welfare system should be dismantled. If people want to protect themselves against unfortunate life events, they should insure themselves. If kind and benevolent people want to help the unfortunate, they should express this through donating to charity, or volunteering, or fundraising.

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  • Isn't a little self defeating Gavin to be absolute that those in power are getting it all wrong when you have no alternative to propose that they should be doing instead?

    I agree that complex matters rarely have soundbite solutions - if they did then previous governments would have had more success and the current one would be enjoying exceptional outcomes.

    Jono appears to have a clear idea of an alternative approach to this issue. I'm inclined to agree that the matter is one of economics and how the economy is managed. Therefore I also agree that the government's blunt tools are not the answer, as is being proven through increasing footfalls.

    An alternative then would be to exercise a fairer economic system, and one that contains a natural bias to the benefit of citizens, making citizenship the gateway to advantage, not residence. This does not prevent residents from gaining, nor preclude them from gaining citizenship, but it does put matters into a correct perspective without any racial division.

    An interesting side effect of such an approach would be an ultimate deterrent of removal of citizenship for those guilty of, for instance extreme activities against the national interest, such as fraud or terrorism.

    Introducing a new economic settlement is surely the best way to ensure that those gaining the most from their own activities are those persons themselves. Those who do little, or less, will reap the rewards in proportion with their own toil and achievement.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Jono - you say " Immigrants are blamed by the racists & xenophobes (you know who you are) because firstly there is the presumption that an immigrant will be dependent rather than independent"

    Who exactly has presumed anything like that in this forum?

    From what I can see it is YOU who is presuming on behalf of others and then setting out to criticise your own presumption as unreasonable, implying that it is actually the view of the other person you are really talking about. This manner of debate is ridiculous. You are clearly capable of better than this.

    You go on to say "and when an immigrant is unable to provide for themselves, it is (in their view) somehow different to when a UK born person is similarly unable".

    I presume this is a subtle dig at me, because I am pretty much the only contributor here who has been raising the topic of immigrants. My ACTUAL sentiment about this was expressed in my post immediately preceding yours, in which I said:

    "Everyone deserves to be treated equally."

    I had also previously said, in response to Zeus: "People who are in need should be helped."

    There is no hint there of any notion that an immigrant being unable to provide for himself is any different from a UK born person being unable to provide for himself.

    The consideration about eligibility for recourse to public funds in the UK that I mentioned relates to what is contained in European law, not what is morally right or wrong in the way people who find themselves in need should be treated by others.

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  • Gavin Rider

    PlanB - "Isn't a little self defeating Gavin to be absolute that those in power are getting it all wrong when you have no alternative to propose that they should be doing instead?"

    No - I don't have to be capable of flying a plane myself to assess that the pilot is about to crash the plane if I can see he is flying straight at a mountain on auto-pilot. It would indeed be stupid to have identified that situation and not to say anything about it, although by saying nothing the rest of the passengers might have a less troubled journey towards their imminent destruction.

    You appear to have missed my primary point - this is really not a question about deciding who (resident or citizen) should be eligible to receive certain benefits. It is a question of whether or not we should have so many additional people coming to live here in the first place - whether or not they intend to claim benefits of any kind.

    Every person who comes to live here permanently requires housing. It does not matter whether they rent privately or buy their own home using money they bring here from overseas. One home occupied by an immigrant is one less home that is available to satisfy the housing needs of the current population.

    Multiply that by almost 250,000 net immigrants a year and it is evident that this is a tremendous burden on housing supply that we cannot hope to satisfy. According to all the housing experts we are ALREADY in a "housing crisis" without adding demand from almost a quarter of a million more people every year.

    Replace approximately another 250,000 existing residents (who emigrate each year) with immigrants who will go on to have more children than the emigrating residents would have done, and you add even more pressure to the future burden on housing supply than today's net immigration figures alone would indicate. Even at zero net immigration, there would be increased housing demand as a result of the changing population demographics.

    So forget focusing on a few thousand immigrants who might do something against the national interest - although they are more "newsworthy" it is the few hundred thousand others coming here every year who don't get "noticed" who are the real cause for concern.

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  • Gavin Rider

    PlanB - here is an interesting fact I have unearthed.

    Students from overseas who come here to study are granted student visas and are expected to return home after their period of study covered by their visas. However, until January this year no exit data were being collected by the Borders Agency to confirm that students were actually leaving at the end of their study as they should.

    According to the ONS:

    "new questions have been asked of passengers interviewed in the IPS since 1st January 2012. These improvements include:
    * For emigrating passengers (who previously migrated to the UK) the addition of a question on original reason for coming to the UK.
    * An amendment to ask emigrating passengers ‘Are you, or have you been studying while in the UK?’
    * For departing non-UK resident passengers (i.e. have been in the UK less than 12 months), the addition of a question asking ‘did you study on this visit to the UK?’
    * A new code to separate Further Education from Higher Education.
    * An extra question asking immigrating students when their course will finish and (if less than 12 months) when they expect to leave the UK."

    An enquiry to the ONS gave me a link to "Migrant Journey: Second Report" published by the Home Office in August 2011. This followed a number of individual migrants (over 700,000) over several years.

    This reported:

    "Approximately 21 per cent of all students in the 2004 cohort still had valid visas after five years... The top five countries within this group showed differing results with between five per cent and 47 per cent having either settled or had valid leave five years after entry."

    This means that a significant proportion of students who are believed to leave the country at the end of their study are actually settling here permanently. It seems that "study" is being used as a means of securing permanent residence in the UK by a significant number of overseas students.

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