From all those I have met during my time as minister, I know that homelessness and rough sleeping is no respecter of status. It can happen to anyone.
Today marks one year since we launched our Rough Sleeping Strategy which set out our plan not just to reduce rough sleeping but to end it completely.
Together with our partners across local government, charities and the private sector we have achieved much in the last year. I am incredibly grateful for their tireless work and our ambition remains as bright as ever.
Nearly 5,000 new homes have now been completed through the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme (RSAP) giving stable, long term accommodation to those sleeping rough. Our Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant has helped over 10,600 vulnerable people access the help they need, and our Accommodation for Ex-Offenders programme has supported 2,750 ex-offenders into their own homes in the private rented sector.
The long-term trends support this: rough sleeping numbers are 28% lower than in 2019 before the pandemic and rough sleeping has continued to decrease or stayed the same in around 46% of local authorities, as shown in the latest annual snapshot published in February 2023.
But I am not blind to the challenges we face. Overall rough sleeping numbers have risen for the first time in four years, which is of great concern.