People seen sleeping rough in London down 39% in a year – figures

·4-min read
Some 2,589 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London between April and June, figures show (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)
Some 2,589 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London between April and June, figures show (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)

The number of people seen sleeping rough on the capital’s streets has fallen by more than a third in a year, quarterly figures show.

Some 2,589 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London between April and June, according to data from the Combined Homelessness And Information Network (Chain).

This is a fall of 39% from the same quarter last year, and down 14% from the first three months of 2021.

The number of new and intermittent rough sleepers has also fallen.

Outreach teams recorded 1,177 people in London sleeping rough for the first time, down 56% from the same period last year.

And 1,041 people were deemed “intermittent rough sleepers” – down 21% from last year and 9% lower than the previous quarter.

However the number of people deemed to be living on the streets has risen.

The Salvation Army is very worried that the numbers of people forced to sleep rough may start to spiral as emergency pandemic support ends

Hilarie Watchorn

Some 395 people were spotted on the streets more than five times over at least three weeks, up 50% from the same period quarter last year and up 25% from the previous quarter.

The Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative is credited with bringing at least 37,000 rough sleepers into Covid-secure accommodation since the start of the pandemic.

Charities said the overall fall was “encouraging”, but said they are concerned that a surge of people could be forced on to the streets in the autumn.

The ban on bailiff-enforced rental sector evictions ended in May, the furlough scheme is being tapered off and the £20 uplift in Universal Credit payments is due to be phased out from late September.

And they say many night shelters will still be unable to operate due to needing to provide single rooms to stop Covid spreading.

Hilarie Watchorn, the Salvation Army’s assistant director of homelessness services, said: “While it is encouraging that there has been a drop in London rough sleepers, we are concerned that there are still many new rough sleepers ending up on the streets.

“The Salvation Army is very worried that the numbers of people forced to sleep rough may start to spiral as emergency pandemic support ends.

“The Government has made a good start by investing over £3 million to help people transition from the ‘Everyone In’ emergency accommodation scheme to stable accommodation but there is an urgent need for more investment.

“If the Government is to meet its commitment to put an end to homelessness by the end of this Parliament it must invest in services to help people tackle the reasons they have been made homeless in the first place which can include unemployment, poor physical or mental health and addiction.”

It’s almost impossible to imagine the impact of that experience on a young person’s life and we should be doing all we can to reduce the number left with no choice but to sleep in unsafe places

Paul Noblet, Centrepoint

The figures show that around half as many 16-25-year-olds were sleeping rough between April and June as they were last year (223, down from 449).

Paul Noblet, Centrepoint’s Government and Parliamentary Affairs lead, welcomed the fall but said the number of young people sleeping rough before the pandemic was “unacceptably high”.

He said: “It’s almost impossible to imagine the impact of that experience on a young person’s life and we should be doing all we can to reduce the number left with no choice but to sleep in unsafe places.

“The Government showed what could be done last year when the political will and the increased funding was there to end rough sleeping.

“They have continued to invest money since but today’s statistics show that there is a long way to go when it comes to getting homeless young people off the streets.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government spokeswoman said: “Thousands of rough sleepers in London and across the country have been protected during the pandemic and helped off the streets through our Everyone In initiative.

“More than 4,000 people in London have been moved into long-term accommodation and we expect all councils to continue this drive and provide somewhere safe to stay.

“In the capital we’re working with the Mayor’s office, charities and boroughs to get rough sleepers the support they need, backed by over £750 million of government funding this year alone.”

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