Housing

The number of rough sleepers is down in London for the first time in a decade

St Mungo’s CHAIN figures found eight per cent less people living on the streets in the past year

For the first time in more than ten years, the amount of people sleeping rough in England’s capital has fallen.

The figures – from the Mayor of London’s office – found that 7,484 people were seen by outreachers in London in the past year compared to 8,108 in 2016/2017 – a drop of eight per cent.

But this has not come without substantial investment – £8.45 million has been spent on services in the city past year. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s No One Sleeps Rough in London campaign raised money for the city’s Homeless Charities Group last December, providing funding for 18 organisations to tackle homelessness, including The Big Issue Foundation.

In bids announced this month, a further £3.3m will go to City Hall to be distributed to rough sleeping services – aiming to double the number of outreach workers, boost local cold weather shelters and mental health services as well as expanding the No Second Night Out service.

And the cash boost has helped 87 per cent of people who accessed these services left the streets, according to the figures, but Mayor Khan feels that the government can still do more to get people into permanent homes.

“Our comprehensive plan makes clear ministers must agree a huge injection of funding and commit to an honest focus on the root causes of homelessness and rough sleeping to truly tackle this crisis,” he said.

“Without that, we won’t be able to help everyone off the street – there’s a real danger services will be overwhelmed and we’ll see more people sleeping rough in future. We have a moral duty to act and work together until we have made sure no-one needs to sleep rough on the streets of London.”

Petra Salva, St Mungo’s director of Rough Sleeper Services, added: “Rough sleeping is harmful, dangerous and dehumanising and it is unacceptable that almost 7,500 people slept rough in London last year.”

This sentiment was also echoed by Jon Sparkes, Crisis chief executive, who believes that though great progress has been made, the government must take decisive action to truly end rough sleeping.

“It’s encouraging to see the Mayor of London’s strategy to end rough sleeping and its focus on the kinds of solutions we know can work; such as Housing First,” he said. “But like cities around the country, London will need support from Westminster to do this. The government now has a vital opportunity to address these issues when it publishes its rough sleeping strategy next month.

The government has vowed to half rough sleeping by 2022 before ending the issue within a decade. To do this, they have set up their own Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel as well as bringing in the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force on April 1.

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