Britain’s homelessness shame: The cold hard facts

The figures you need to know about homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK

In this week’s Big Issue, we investigate what can be done about the shocking rough sleeping figures that shame the nation.

There are many reasons why people end up on the streets, from the financial to mental health to substance abuse.

The loss of private tenancies are biggest reason behind homelessness while the ‘hidden homeless’, sofa surfers and those living in hostels and temporary accommodation, are also counted among statistics.

Here are the cold hard facts about rough sleeping and homelessness in the UK:

  • Councils spend a total of £1.15 billion on homelessness services every year, including £845 million temporary accommodation (Homeless Link)
  • There are 4,447 rough sleepers across Great Britain, according to Homeless Link’s snapshot from winter 2016. Government figures revealed, by autumn 2017, figures for England alone sat at 4,751 with London representing 24 per cent of the England total rough sleepers while 14 per cent of rough sleepers were women, 20 per cent were non-UK nationals and 8 per cent were under 25 years old.
  • However, these numbers are thought to be an underestimate by some with CHAIN insisting that 8,108 people slept rough in London alone last year
  • 300,000 people are classed as homeless in the UK, including one in 59 people in London and one in 27 in Newham, the worst-hit ara (Shelter)
  • There has been a 134 per cent rise in the number of rough sleepers across the UK since 2010 – between 2015 and 2016 alone, the number of people living on the streets rose by 16 per cent (Homeless Link)
  • 47 per cent of rough sleepers in London were struggling with poor mental health in 2013 (Thames Reach)
  • The loss of a private tenancy is the single leading cause of homelessness with three in 10 households seeking statutory assistance as a result (Department for Communities and Local Government)