Rough sleeping rise must be 'wake-up call' for Boris
Charities have called on the mayor of London and central government to do more to tackle homelessness after figures revealed a surge in rough sleeping in the capital.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said the 43 per cent rise in rough sleeping should be a ‘wake-up call’ to mayor Boris Johnson and the government.
‘If London can deliver an Olympics on time and under budget we must surely be able to bring a similar drive, focus and commitment to tackling this most basic of issues – that of ensuring all of our citizens have a place to call home,’ she said.
The figures from the combined homelessness and information network database, which is run by Broadway for the Greater London Authority, showed rough sleeping numbers increased from 3,975 in 2010/11 to 5,678 in 2011/12, with a 62 per cent increase in new rough sleepers, and an 18 per cent rise in people who slept rough for more than one night.
Crisis is calling for the mayor to deliver on his pledge to lead work to tackle homelessness, and for central government to rethink its housing benefit reforms. The charity says these are making it harder to rehouse homeless people and rough sleepers.
The mayor has a target to end rough sleeping – which his office defines as spending more than one night on the streets – by the end of the year.
Charles Fraser, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said the figures raised questions over whether current schemes are doing enough to tackle the problem.
‘We support the no second night out initiative in the capital and what that has achieved but with services stretched and demand rising, we need to ensure the capacity is in place to help people off the streets,’ he said.
In a statement Mr Johnson said: ‘Through the ground breaking no second night out project, around 8 out of ten rough sleepers spend only one night on the street. It is clear though that we need to redouble our efforts, which is why we are expanding no second night out across the whole of London.
‘We must also do much more to increase preventative work in the boroughs, including improved advice services to homeless people to prevent them sleeping rough in the first place.’