Government figures show that the number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled since 2010.
The statistics gathered from local authorities in England estimate that 3,569 people were sleeping rough on any one night in 2015. This represents a 30% increase on 2014’s total of 2,744, and more than double that in 2010, when the figure was 1,768.
The South West has seen the biggest percentage increase in rough sleeping since last year (41%). The East of England follows on 38%, then the South East (36%) and the West Midlands (34%), all of which have seen increases in rough sleeping above the national average.
However, charity Homeless Link believes the figures could have been much higher without the critical support and temporary accommodation offered by homelessness services across England.
Responding to the rise in rough sleeping, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said: “It is understandable that many people will focus exclusively on today’s latest statistic, but it’s worth considering how much higher that figure might have been without the support and innovation of frontline homelessness services. When the right local services are in place to help people off the streets as quickly as possible, we know it is possible to turn this situation around.”
In 2012, the Government called on local authorities to adopt the No Second Night Out standard by developing services to help people off the streets quickly. Backed by £20m in grants for local homelessness charities over three years, this funding came to an end last March. However, 13,900 people were helped off the streets before they spent a second night out, while 29,000 people at risk of homelessness were helped before they slept rough. Overall, almost 64,000 people were helped.
Rick Henderson went on to say: “It is unacceptable that anyone has to sleep rough in Britain today – and even more shocking that the number of people in this situation has risen every year since 2010. Unfortunately, many homelessness charities have already seen their funding fall as demand for help rises.
“Homelessness is costly and damaging to individuals and society, but we know that when national and local government have the right vision and strategy in place and invest in the right services, rough sleeping need not be inevitable.”