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Homeless Link responds to Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England:

On 29 February, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities published its annual Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England for Autumn 2023, which provides information about the estimated number of people sleeping rough on a single night between 1 October and 30 November. 

Key findings are:  

  • 3,898 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2023. This is an increase of 828 people or 27% on the 2022 rough sleeping snapshot estimate total (3,069) and a 60% increase on the 2021 total (2,440)
  • The figure represents the largest annual increase since 2015 and is more than double (120%) the number of people estimated to have been sleeping rough in 2010 when records began. 
  • While it is down 18% from the peak of 4,751 people in 2017, it has leapt up since Covid measures in 2020-1 brought the numbers down. 
  • Every single region saw an increase, with the largest rises recorded in Yorkshire and Humber (59%), the North West (49%) and the North East (46%). 
  • London recorded the largest number of people estimated to be sleeping rough at 1,132 or 29% of the national total, followed by the South East at 670 or 17% of the total. 
  • If the figure continues to rise at the current rate, 2024's snapshot will be higher than the peak of 2017.

Responding to the statistics, Fiona Colley, Director of Social Change at Homeless Link, said:  

“Everyone deserves a safe place to live and the support they need to keep it. But this appalling spike in rough sleeping points to a situation that is out of control and demands emergency action. Sleeping rough is a deeply traumatic experience that severely impacts people’s mental and physical health. If a healthy society is judged by how it supports its most vulnerable citizens, then today’s statistics are truly shameful.  

“A range of long-term factors are behind this steep increase, including a severe shortage of affordable homes, a punitive welfare system and insufficient mental health support. 

“Government must address these root causes in the long-term, but people sleeping rough today need trusted providers of homelessness accommodation and support to turn to. However, long-term inflation and cash-strapped councils have left them severely underfunded, meaning many are closing their doors. 

“We cannot allow this lifeline to continue to contract when it is needed more than ever to keep people off the streets. We urge the Chancellor to use the Spring Budget to safeguard essential homelessness support by announcing an emergency backdated inflationary uplift to homelessness funding.” 

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Nye Jones

Campaigns Manager

Nye is Campaigns Manager at Homeless Link