Homelessness services face uncertain future as rough sleeping figures double
25 Feb 2016 12:03 PM
Government figures published yesterday show that the number of people who sleep rough each night in England has more than doubled since 2010. Homeless Link believes the numbers could have been much higher without the support, innovation and adaptability of the homelessness sector.
According to the statistics, 3,569 people were estimated by local authorities to be sleeping rough on any one night in 2015. This represents a 30% increase on the 2014 estimate of 2,744, and a 102% increase since 2010, when the figure stood at 1,768.
However, without the critical support and temporary accommodation offered by homelessness services across England, Homeless Link believes this number could have been much higher.
The South West has seen the biggest percentage increase in rough sleeping since last year (41%). This is followed by the East of England (38%), the South East (36%) and the West Midlands (34%), all of which have seen increases in rough sleeping above the national average.
Responding to the rise in rough sleeping, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of umbrella body Homeless Link, said:
“It is understandable that many people will focus exclusively on today’s latest statistic, but it’s worth considering how much higher that figure might have been without the support and innovation of frontline homelessness services. When the right local services are in place to help people off the streets as quickly as possible, we know it is possible to turn this situation around.”
In 2012, the Government called on every local authority to adopt the No Second Night Out standard by developing services to help people off the streets quickly. This was backed by £20m in grants for local homelessness charities over three years. This funding came to an end last March, but before it did, 13,900 people were helped off the streets before they spent a second night out, while 29,000 people at risk of homelessness were helped before they slept rough. Overall, almost 64,000 people were helped.
While Homeless Link welcomes the Government taking steps to protect funding for homelessness, the future for many homelessness services locally remains uncertain. They face a range of pressures, including reduced local authority funding, substantial changes to the welfare system and a housing crisis in many parts of the country. When combined, these factors present a clear threat to our vision of ending homelessness through innovative homelessness services.
Rick Henderson went on to say:
“It is unacceptable that anyone has to sleep rough in Britain today – and even more shocking that the number of people in this situation has risen every year since 2010. Unfortunately, many homelessness charities have already seen their funding fall as demand for help rises.
“Homelessness is costly and damaging to individuals and society, but we know that when national and local government have the right vision and strategy in place and invest in the right services, rough sleeping need not be inevitable.”
Explore rough sleeping trends in your area since 2010 with our live tables on rough sleeping.