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Devastating rough sleeping increase in London as underfunded homelessness services struggle

On 31 January, the CHAIN homelessness database published its quarterly report detailing levels of rough sleeping in London between October and December 2023. CHAIN is the UK’s most detailed and comprehensive rough sleeping database.

Key findings are:

  • A record total of 4,389 people were recorded as sleeping rough in London between October and December, representing a 23% annual increase.
  • 2,283 people were recorded as sleeping rough for the first time. This is the second highest quarterly figure ever reported and represents a huge annual increase of 34% and a 9% increase on the previous quarter.
  • The number of people classed as ‘living on the streets’ was at its highest ever quarterly level, at 560, having grown by 24% compared to the same period last year.
  • There was a disproportionate increase in the number of Eritrean and Sudanese people sleeping on our streets during a period of increasing concerns of the impact the asylum system has on pushing newly recognised refugees, and those currently claiming asylum, onto our streets.

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

“That a record number of people have been exposed to the trauma of sleeping rough in London this winter, many of them for the first time, is devastating. Without delivering the investment and policy changes needed to ensure adequate homelessness prevention and the support to help people off the streets, we risk allowing soaring rough sleeping to become the norm in the capital.

“The woeful shortage of affordable homes and rocketing rents in the city are not giving people a fighting chance. On top of this, inflation and the crisis in local government funding have left vital homelessness services severely underfunded and struggling to keep their doors open. At a time when they are so sorely needed, it is imperative that homelessness services receive adequate funding to sustain their essential work and bed spaces, so that people have somewhere to turn for support and are not forced to sleep rough.

“This is a disaster that must be addressed immediately. We are calling on Jeremy Hunt to use the Spring Budget to safeguard homelessness support by ensuring services are fully funded. The Government must now prove that it is still committed to meeting its own target of ending rough sleeping for good.”

The CHAIN data can be downloaded here: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/chain-reports

Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/devastating-rough-sleeping-increase-in-london-as-underfunded-homelessness-services-struggle/

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