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The annual counts and estimates data for rough sleeping in England was published today (24/02/2022) by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.  

The data provides a snapshot of the numbers of people likely sleeping rough each night during a given period of the year and is used to track national and local trends. This year’s count was conducted in November 2021 and was monitored and verified by Homeless Link. It found the following:  

  • 2,440 people were recorded as sleeping rough on any given night in England.  
  • This figure is a 9% reduction compared to the figure for 2020 and a 43% fall when compared to 2019.  
  • However, the number of people sleeping rough on any given night is still 38% higher than recorded in 2010. 
  • The number of people estimated to be in emergency & short-term accommodation in November is down 5,490 people or 56% from the same period last year. 
  • Rough sleeping decreased in every region of England compared to the previous year. The largest decrease in the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough was in London, with an estimated decrease of 70 people.  
  • But, nearly half (45 %) of all people sleeping rough on a single night in autumn are in London and the South East. 

Responding to the statistics, Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations in England, said:

“Everyone deserves a safe place to live and the support they need to maintain it. So, after nearly a decade of continual rises, a fourth year on year decrease in the number of people sleeping rough on any given night is something to celebrate. The hard work of homeless services on the front-line, in partnership with government and local authorities, has shown us that rough sleeping is not inevitable, that we can dream of one day living in a society where it has all but been eradicated. 

“But 2,400 people are still sleeping rough on any given night, with this figure 38% higher than the total in 2010. These are real lives, stories of people let down by a system that should protect them. It could be someone who lost their job during the pandemic or a young person who’s recently left the care system, terrified and alone. It could be a woman fleeing an abusive partner or someone evicted from a private tenancy through no fault of their own.  

“With the Government’s target of ending rough sleeping by 2024 fast approaching, it will be critical to redouble our efforts over the next two years. With the much-reported cost of living crisis starting to take effect, private sector evictions rising again and some of those housed during the pandemic returning to the streets, a tough year lies ahead.  

“Addressing the root causes of homelessness will be key to prevent economic pressures pushing many more people into it. At the same time, we must learn from the pandemic response. The ‘Everyone In’ scheme opened the door to many people who had been locked out previously. Building on this ethos through approaches like Housing First, where people are given their own home and intensive, unconditional support to maintain it, will be key to continuing the progress we have seen." 

Notes to editors

About the data

The Rough Sleeping snapshot is not intended to provide a complete figure of the number of people rough sleeping in England, it is by default a best estimate count of street homelessness.  

Accurately estimating the number of people sleeping rough within a local authority is inherently difficult given the hidden nature of rough sleeping. Furthermore, there are a range of factors that can impact on the number of people seen or thought to be sleeping rough on any given night. These include the weather, where people choose to sleep, the date and time chosen, and the availability of alternatives such as available night shelters.  

However, the counts and estimates process is considered an effective way of estimating the number of people sleeping rough across England on a single night in autumn. The consistent methodology and approach means that it is a vital tool in allowing us to track national and local trends over time.  

The counts and estimates process is independently verified by Homeless Link to ensure consistency across all local areas. Further information on the verification process can be found in the technical note.