The number of people sleeping rough continues to decrease in England, but ongoing effort is paramount
The Government figures published today reveal the largest decrease in the estimated number of people rough sleeping since 2010, but this is still 52% higher than when the snapshot approach was introduced a decade ago.
A total of 2,688 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2020, with almost half of the people found in London and the South East.
What was different in 2020 compared to 2019?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, significant and ongoing efforts were made to accommodate people sleeping rough across the sector. By November, the ‘Everyone In’ scheme had supported around 33,000 people, with 10,000 remaining in emergency accommodation. The people supported by the scheme include those who would have otherwise been rough sleeping, as well as those at risk of rough sleeping.
Not only that, local authorities were placed under restrictions and a second national lockdown during the two month window when data is collected. Despite this, all approaches to data collection were able to go ahead and areas felt confident that they were still able to capture an accurate view of rough sleeping.
What has the snapshot revealed in 2020?
- Some areas reported a figure of zero. These local authorities emphasised the role of ‘Everybody In’, and other programmes related to the pandemic, as having had a significant impact in their ability to accommodate people. These areas also highlighted the increased support available to people sleeping rough through increased funding to address gaps in services enabling them to be more responsive and proactive.
- Several local authorities with the largest recorded increases in the number of people sleeping rough in 2019 were seen to have the largest decreases in autumn 2020. Again, both ‘Everybody In’ and increased joint-working were described as reasons for the change in numbers.
- Local authorities across England voiced that most people found rough sleeping in 2020 were different to those seen the previous year. This highlights that whilst great efforts were taken to support people during ‘Everyone In’, the flow of people onto the streets needs closer attention.
- Almost half (49%) of people sleeping rough in London were not UK nationals indicating the importance of support and advocacy for those who may not have access to public funds.
- The intelligence on those rough sleeping has improved, with more people either at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness seeking support from organisations and there being an increase in knowledge gained from multiple organisations working together.
So, what's next?
Through the hard work of a variety of organisations and individuals over the past ten months, it is clear that significant progress has been made to address rough sleeping across the country. Partnership working across sectors has increased and the fall in rough sleeping proves what can be achieved when everyone works together. The snapshot is still up by 52% from 2010, and so, whilst hard work should be celebrated, there is still more to be achieved. What is vital is that the progress continues, without regression, and rough sleeping continues to be a priority with a focus on prevention and recovery with adequate funding to support this.
You can read Homeless Link’s analysis of the statistics here and explore an interactive map of the figures here. For more information on Homeless Link’s role in the data collection approach, please view the toolkit here.
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