The chief executive of homeless charity, Shelter, has warned that rough sleeping is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to the extent of homelessness in England.
The annual rough sleeping figures, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), show that, in 2019, 4,266 people were recorded as sleeping rough on a given night in England, 9% fewer than last year but 141% more than in 2010.
The figures also showed that 83% of people recorded as rough sleeping on a given night in 2019 were men, and 14% were women, which works out as 3,534 men and 614 women.
The number of women in the snapshot is believed to be far lower than the reality because they may choose to sleep on public transport or away from public walkways.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘It’s good news if fewer people are facing the trauma of sleeping on the streets. But a word of warning, the number of people sleeping rough remains well over double what it was in 2010.
‘The prime minister rightly wants to end rough sleeping before the end of the parliament, but unless his government tackles the drought of genuinely affordable homes, homelessness isn’t going anywhere.
‘Rough sleeping is only the tip of the iceberg – there are literally hundreds of thousands more homeless people stuck in temporary accommodation.
‘You can’t put a plaster on a gaping wound. Serious investment in social housing is what’s needed. The upcoming budget is the perfect opportunity to champion a new generation of social homes and increase housing benefit, so it covers the basic cost of private rents.’
The number of people found rough sleeping on a given night in England is the number of people who were recorded as rough sleeping on one night in Autumn.
Local authorities can either provide an estimate of rough sleeping or carry out a count. The counts take place between 1st October and 30th November each year
A spokesman for MHCLG said the Prime Minister has announced an extra £236 million to help get people off the streets and appointed an independent adviser to lead an urgent review into the causes of rough sleeping.
The new funding will go towards offering Housing First style ‘move on’ accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers and those at immediate risk of rough sleeping, to give them stability and certainty over the long-term.
Dame Louise Casey has been appointed to undertake a review into rough sleeping that will provide the government with advice on additional action required to end rough sleeping within this Parliament.
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