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Extremely concerning rise in rough sleeping

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Charity St Mungo’s Broadway calls for a strengthening of response to rough sleeping, as national annual rough sleeping figures published today reveal a 14% rise in people sleeping rough in England.

The yearly ‘snapshot’ rough sleeping statistics, released today by the Department for Communities and Local Government, show that 2,744 people slept rough on any one night, an increase of 14% from 2,414 in 2013.

The figures show that the number of people sleeping rough has increased year on year over the last five years and by 55 % since 2010.

Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s Broadway Chief Executive, said: “We are extremely concerned that yet again we are seeing a rise in the levels of rough sleeping. This is a problem that we cannot ignore and needs to be a top priority for the next Government.

“As well as tackling the housing crisis overall, there is an urgent need to improve the help people receive from councils when looking for help with their homelessness.

“However, it’s important that we look below the surface of these snapshot figures. We know that the annual street counts can often be an estimate and fluctuate throughout the year, and with more workers out on the streets, more people are being found.

“The street counts provide a useful headline but more detailed analysis in London provided by CHAIN data shows that at least a proportion of the rise is driven by an increase in rough sleeping among non-UK nationals, in particular Eastern Europe.

“This trend, which has been apparent over the past decade, is particularly concerning as many of the traditional routes off the streets are not available to people who may have limited entitlement to welfare benefits. Further tightening of entitlement could exacerbate this.”

St Mungo’s Broadway provides a bed and support to more than 2,500 people a night who are either homeless or at risk, and works to prevent homelessness, helping about 25,000 people a year.

The charity supports people rough sleeping who are non-UK nationals with specialist language outreach workers, reconnection and advice on immigration issues and outreach support to link in with other partners and agencies.

Rough sleeper outreach teams work across London and the South in Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Southwark, The City and Westminster, and in Bristol, Reading, Oxford, South Essex and Sussex.

Sinclair continued: “We will be working with national and local government and others to strengthen the response to people who find themselves with nowhere to turn and to prevent people from arriving on the streets in the first place. We know that if we do not find ways to tackle this, more people will become ill and potentially die on our streets.”

“Our work running No Second Night Out in London and elsewhere shows that some local authorities have improved their response but there are still too many areas where people are left with no other option than to sleep rough. This is not acceptable in 21st century Britain. We will be joining with others to look at ways that the homelessness safety net can be strengthened in the next Parliament.”

St Mungo’s Broadway recently launched its manifesto for the 2015 General Election in which our clients called for

  1. No more homelessness and much more housing that everyone can afford
  2. More people who have experienced homelessness getting into work
  3. Homeless people living longer

Members of the public who are concerned about somebody who is sleeping rough should contact StreetLink on www.streetlink.org.uk or call 0300 500 0914

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