Housing

Official statistics on the reasons behind homelessness are being developed

The Office for National Statistics and the Centre for Homelessness Impact have launched an online consultation to find out how to bolster their homelessness data

The national stats body the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has vowed to move beyond counting homelessness to understand more about the reasons why people end up on the streets.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s Dying Homeless project came before the ONS’ own homelessness figures last year, preceding an official count of the number of homeless people dying in England and Wales.

It’s been hard to move the needle, and despite the many good efforts, homelessness seems stubbornly high

And the official rough sleeping figures that MHCLG releases annually are also treated with suspicion by homelessness charities. There are frequent suggestions that the 4,677 people that MHCLG reported last year is a vast underestimation while there is ongoing debate about the snapshot method used for the count.

In fact, homelessness data remains a tricky subject with little indication of how to prevent and tackle the issue coming from annual counts.

Now, ONS has teamed up with the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) to launch a consultation to identify new national measures which look for the causes of homelessness.

The results will be used to create figures for the number of people at risk of homelessness as well as asking people with direct or indirect experience of the homelessness sector to identify factors which are known to contribute to the issue.

CHI CEO Ligia Teixeira said: “Attempts have been made to tackle homelessness, such as progressive legislation and the shift to prevention. Yet it’s been hard to move the needle, and despite the many good efforts, homelessness seems stubbornly high.

“By measuring the causes behind homelessness we can see what policies could be in place to affect real lasting change.”

The consultation will be available until July 10 on the ONS’ consultation hub with results from the first of the measures to be published on CHI’s website in the autumn.

Hugh Stickland, head of strategy and engagement at ONS, added: “We want to provide better statistics to inform better decisions. To do this, we want to work with a range of different partners to help create the best possible evidence base on the most pressing public policy issues; this includes shining a light on the challenges faced by some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

Access the consultation here.

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