Rough sleeping up by a third since 2010
Rough sleeping in England has risen by more than a third since 2010, official statistics reveal.
Figures from the Communities and Local Government department show there were 2,414 rough sleepers in autumn 2013 compared with 2,309 the year before – an increase of 5 per cent.
It is the fourth consecutive year that rough sleeping in England has increased, rising 37 per cent from the 1,768 rough sleepers recorded in autumn 2010.
The number of rough sleepers in London decreased by 3 per cent, to 543 this year. However, data released by homelessness charity Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation in December claimed rough sleeping had increased by 60 per cent in London.
Homeless Link said welfare reform and funding cuts were the main driver in areas where increases occurred.
Rick Henderson, chief executive of the umbrella body, said: ‘Any increase in rough sleeping is bad news, but we are encouraged that homelessness services have been able to contain this issue that is so damaging to people and communities. This has been possible because many local authorities have understood the essential nature of these services and attempted to protect funding, despite facing increasing financial pressure.
‘Our own research shows that rough sleepers are getting help more quickly and fewer are ending back up on the streets. However, without this essential help in place, rough sleeping can quickly spiral out of control.’
Emma Reynolds, shadow housing minister, said: ‘It is appalling that on David Cameron’s watch the number of people sleeping rough has soared by more than a third.
‘The prime minister once said homelessness and rough sleeping were a disgrace. But warm words are cold comfort to those sleeping rough if you fail to act.’
Charles Fraser, chief executive of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, said: ‘It is deeply depressing that we are seeing yet another rise in rough sleeping. This 5 per cent increase means that a tragic amount of people have been let down before having to face the misery of sleeping on our streets. Our clients tell us they don’t know how to find help, or it’s not available when they ask. That is the time to stop homelessness, before it starts.’