Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rough sleeping rises 31% in two years

The number of people rough sleeping has gone up by 31 per cent in the past two years, according to government statistics released today.

Communities and Local Government department figures show the number of rough sleepers in a single-night snapshot in autumn 2012 was 2,309 up from 1,768 in autumn 2010. This year’s figure was a rise of 6 per cent from autumn 2011’s count of 2,181.

Matt Harrison, director at umbrella group Homeless Link, said: ‘The harsh economic climate continues to add to rough sleeping numbers. Living on the streets is dangerous, harmful to your health and the longer you spend out the more your problems will multiply.’

He urged councils not to cut homelessness services. ‘It is more important than ever that we continue to invest in a safety net that gets help to rough sleepers quickly and supports them to get back on their feet,’ he said.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of charity Crisis, said:  ‘We have been warning for some time now that the economic downturn combined with cuts – particularly to housing benefit – would drive rough sleeping higher. These figures confirm our fears and with a raft of new cuts coming in April, we think this is just the beginning.’

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: ‘What we are seeing now are the consequences of this government’s failure, homeless people huddled in shop doorways and sleeping on freezing winter streets.’

London had 557 rough sleepers in autumn 2012, accounting for 24 per cent of the national figure. The CLG also points to recent government-endorsed CHAIN figures, produced by homelessness charity Broadway, that showed of 5,678 rough sleepers in the capital in 2011/12, 2,531 were from the UK (47 per cent).

Housing minister Mark Prisk said: ‘It is clearly a cause of concern that more than half of all rough sleepers in London are foreigners, which is why we are working to deliver controlled immigration and also warn foreign nationals of the risks of coming to the capital unprepared.’

The 2012 figure comes from 43 local authorities conducting a count and 283 providing an estimate. In 2011, 53 councils did counts and 273 provided estimates and in 2010 these figures were 42 and 284 respectively.

The government overhauled rough sleeping counts in 2010. All local authorities should now provide a figure, whereas previously only ‘hot spot’ areas had to take part.

Local authorities now have the choice of whether to carry out an actual count or provide an estimate.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Chris

    It would be interesting if as well as nationality the data recorded the roofless person's age. The welfare cuts for under 35's, previously applied to under 25's may be a factor, but the data does not permit such a judgement.

    Regardless, what is in place to prevent homelessness getting worse?

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  • There may have been a 6% increase in rough sleeping across England but there are pockets around the country where rough sleeping has actually reduced. The 13 Districts & Boroughs covered by @FrameworkSOT (street outreach team) show a 47% decrease.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Leslie Morphy, chief executive of charity Crisis, said: ‘We have been warning for some time now that the economic downturn combined with cuts – particularly to housing benefit – would drive rough sleeping higher. These figures confirm our fears and with a raft of new cuts coming in April, we think this is just the beginning.’

    As Chris points out, correctly for once, the data do(es) not permit such a judgement. The random error in the statistics and the variable efficiency of finding and recording rough sleepers prevent this kind of conclusion from being drawn unless there is a specific analysis of the reasons for these individuals being homeless.

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  • Mike Batt

    Was there not a more rapid rise in Scotland highlighted recently as well?

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  • The increase are NOT British people the increase comes from European Union. Its a fact I seen it with my own eyes

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  • Maurice Condie

    Sorry but "No sh1t Sherlock". Not one person in the supported housing/homeless sector failed to predict this. What is more, we all knew it would happen in 2002. People knew that SP would not be sustainable after so many providers rushed on the gravy train and LAs did all they could to “maximise” their SP allocation. Outside of London most supported homeless provision is SP funded.
    Just wait till October when private (and social) landlords start refusing to accommodate those with complex needs. These are the people who end up rough sleeping.

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  • Chris

    Ann - does that make it better, or is it the case that we should have human concern regardless. If a homeless person dies in the street they will still need to be buried, regadless of their nationality - otherwise even the good deserving British people will suffer the stench of their own failure to care.

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  • Gavin Rider

    Chris - for someone who makes so much noise about "demonisation" you do an awful lot of it yourself.

    People do not become homeless because the "good deserving British people" do not care about their plight. Your monotonous condemnation of others is becoming extremely boring and it is highly offensive.

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  • Chris Webb

    Whatever the cause, this news is tragic.

    More tragic is the total lack of solutions being offered by contributors here.

    Causes, including leaving institutional care and the armed forces without effective resettlement, need to be removed. Improvements in mental health care so that people do not fall through the net are required. The ease by which Councils can consider their homelessness duty fulfilled needs to be reversed so that at least hostel care is open to those deemed intentionally homeless or not eligible for consideration. Financial support and advice, including legal aid support, needs to be restored.

    This is not an exhaustive list of solutions, but it would be a start. Considering the very recent changes that add up to causes, it would be simple and quick to reverse recent policies that can be reasonably suspected of adding to homelessness.

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