Rough sleepers up 21% in London as Mayor warns of ‘revolving door’ of homelessness

The number of rough sleepers in London has risen by 21% in a year amid the deepening cost-of-living crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)
The number of rough sleepers in London has risen by 21% in a year amid the deepening cost-of-living crisis, Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)

The number of people sleeping rough in London has increased by nearly a quarter, figures reveal.

Figures obtained by City Hall show that 5,712 people were homeless in London between April and September – a 21 per cent increase on last year.

Mayor Sadiq Khan suggested the rise has been caused by the cost of living crisis, with people hit particularly hard by soaring rents and energy bills.

Mr Khan praised the work of outreach workers, charity teams and council staff as “unsung heroes” for trying to help homeless people stay off the streets for good but said the crisis in the capital continues to grow.

“We continue to see a revolving door of people ending up homeless as a result of this escalating cost of living crisis,” he added.

“This cannot be allowed to continue, this new government must act now to prevent the circumstances that lead to people sleeping rough before thousands more are forced to face a winter on the streets.”

The mayor said he has committed £36.6million to tackle homelessness this year as he urged the Government to freeze private sector rents.

Mr Khan also called for an end to Section 21 notices, which allow private landlords to evict tenants without having to demonstrate any fault, provided they give at least two months’ notice.

A total of 5,770 London households were served with a Section 21 eviction notice between April 2019 and June 2021.

Homelessness charity St Mungo’s said action is “needed now” to tackle the rough sleeping crisis.

Its Chief Executive Rebecca Sycamore said: “As a leading homelessness charity whose teams are trying to get people off the streets every day, St Mungo’s sees the very real and very harsh reality of this financial crisis all of the time. And with more price increases it is very likely many of those currently just scraping by will no longer be able to manage, and could be at real risk of losing their homes and experiencing a very harsh winter.

“Action is needed now. We want to see the government uplift benefits in line with inflation, increase the benefit cap and unfreeze Local Housing Allowance rates. We urge the Prime Minister and his ministers to act as a matter of urgency to prevent more people ending up homeless this winter.”