Housing

Rough sleeping rises for seventh consecutive year

Official rough sleeping figures confirm a shocking 169 per cent increase since 2010 as street homelessness in England continues to soar

homeless rough sleeping tent

Rough sleeping in England continues to soar. New figures released today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show a rise of 15 per cent in the year to autumn 2017.

According to official statistics, there were 4,751 rough sleepers in England in autumn 2017 – a rise of more than 400, year-on-year.

These figures represent the number of people sleeping rough on a ‘typical night’ and are the highest since current records began. Rough sleeping has now risen by 169 per cent since 2010, when 1,768 people were counted sleeping rough.

It’s clear we’ll have to do something radical to prevent more people becoming homeless

Lord John Bird, The Big Issue’s founder, issued a call to action in the wake of the statistics. He said: “These alarm bell-ringing figures show the urgent need for action on rough sleeping.

“It’s clear we’ll have to do something radical to prevent more people becoming homeless.

“Governments need to gets serious about taking long-term measures to prevent poverty. That means stopping the brutal cuts to local councils’ budgets, which lead to more and more people slipping through the cracks in the system.”

The news could be about to get even worse. Bird warned in October that this winter was set to be the worst for homelessness since the 1990s.

And Homelessness charity Crisis believe the true homelessness figures to be far, far higher. Their own research suggests more than 8,000 people are currently sleeping rough in England.

This continued rise in rough sleeping will come as little surprise to many people.

To spend time in towns or city centres across the UK now is to come face to face with the people whose precarious living situations form these shocking statistics.

Reaction to the statistics has been loud and damning. Youth homelessness charity Centrepoint pointed to the 29% rise in young rough sleepers as hugely worrying.

We know there are thousands more young people who are hidden homeless

Balbir Chatrick, Centrepoint’s Director of Policy, said: “These figures are shocking, but they only attempt to count the number of people sleeping rough on one night.

“We know there are thousands more young people who are hidden homeless – sofa-surfing for months on end, sleeping on public transport, or staying with strangers just to find a bed for the night.

“If the government is serious about breaking the cycle of homelessness it must start by measuring the problem properly and then providing adequate funding to solve it.”

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Hidden Homelessness Scandal

The government has vowed to halve rough sleeping by 2022, and completely eradicate rough sleeping by 2027. And, 15 months ago, Theresa May used the occasion of The Big Issue’s 25th anniversary to announce “a new £40 million package to both prevent and tackle the causes of homelessness.”

Commenting on the latest statistics, an MHCLG spokesperson said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough. That’s why this Government is committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027.

“To break the homelessness cycle once and for all, we are providing over £1 billion of funding, supporting rough sleepers with the most complex needs through a new Housing First approach and bringing in the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier.

“In addition a new cross-Government taskforce supported by a panel of experts will drive forward a new strategy that will make life on the streets a thing of the past.”

However, these latest figures show that more needs to be done.

And Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey was quick to condemn the government’s continued failure to quell the rise in rough sleeping.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them
Renters angry at no-fault evictions, Renters Reform Bill delay and a lack of rent controls
RENTING

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'
Housing crisis

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?
Scottish first minister John Swinney
Housing

Scottish government is declaring a national housing emergency – but what does it actually mean?

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell
Homelessness

Home Office drops plan to arrest homeless people if they smell

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know