Rough sleeping rises by 16 per cent, official data shows

New statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have shown that 4,134 people slept rough per night across England in 2016 - a 16 per cent increase on the previous year.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, warned that charities and government need to work together to reduce the increasing incidence of homelessness.

She said: “The number of people sleeping on our streets continues to rise at an appalling rate. Behind these statistics are thousands of desperate people, sleeping in doorways, bin shelters, stations and parks – anywhere they can find to stay safe and escape the elements.

“Rough sleeping ruins lives, leaving people vulnerable to violence and abuse, and taking a dreadful toll on their mental and physical health. Our recent research has shown how rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence. This is no way for anyone to live.  

“There is no time to waste. We need the government to take action on this issue, and we stand ready to work with officials to plan and deliver an ambitious new approach. The government has already shown leadership on plans to expand homelessness prevention, and in light of today’s figures, we hope they will now extend this approach to helping those on the street. It’s time we came together to put an end to this scandal – government, local authorities and charities.” 

Responding to the comments, Cllr Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: "It is a tragedy when anyone becomes homeless and we know many people sleeping rough will be vulnerable to crime and exploitation and are likely to have complex support needs.

"Councils are doing everything they can to prevent and solve homelessness, working closely with partners to place people into secure, appropriate accommodation and equip them with the skills to find work or ensure their health and wellbeing.

"Homelessness is spreading across all areas of the country. Funding pressures are combining with a lack of affordable housing and rents continuing to rise above household incomes to leave many councils struggling to cope with rising homelessness and to find suitable accommodation for those in need, particularly those who are young, vulnerable, or with families.

"The government needs to give councils the powers and funding to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes and to address the widening gap between incomes and rents. This is vital to end homelessness."