Support services for nearly 9,000 homeless people have disappeared following a decade of cuts, charity St Mungo’s has said.
The charity has called on the next government to guarantee funding for homelessness services after new analysis found that there were 8,755 fewer places in accommodation services for people compared with nine years ago.
Bed spaces in accommodation services aimed at helping people off the street fell from 43,655 in 2010 to 34,900 in 2018, according to the research.
Previous research by St Mungo’s found that spending by councils on single homeless people fell by 53% between 2008/09 and 2017/18. The total spent by local authorities on homelessness services has dropped by £1bn in total in a decade.
The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have all made manifesto commitments to end rough sleeping by 2025.
The Office for National Statistics also revealed recently that the number of people dying while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation in England and Wales has risen by 51% since 2013.
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said: “It’s clear that years of cuts to local authority budgets have devastated crucial services supporting people who are homeless. The human cost is a national tragedy. Last year, an average of two people died every day while rough sleeping or in emergency accommodation. This has to be a wake-up call for politicians and the communities they represent.
“The next government must take urgent action to end homelessness now and prevent people rough sleeping by guaranteeing long-term funding for services. Without this, no government will get close to their goal of making rough sleeping a thing of the past.”
Andrew Teale, outreach manager at St Mungo’s, said: “My team and I work every day, in all weathers to help people sleeping rough. Last year, in Bournemouth and Poole, we helped nearly 300 people come off the streets. And yet we find new people every day.
“The problem is finding the long-term housing and support, to help with challenges like poor health, substance use, low income and abuse, that people really need in order to escape homelessness for good. If hostel, supported housing and addiction services had been as stretched when I was homeless, the story could have been very different for me.”