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Rough sleeping numbers jump by 16 per cent

year, according to official figures. The homelessness charity Crisis described the


increase as "appalling". Its chief executive Jon Sparkes said "Behind these statistics are thousands of desperate people, sleeping in doorways, bin shelters, stations and parks - anywhere they can find to stay safe and escape the elements. He added "Rough sleeping ruins lives, leaving

people vulnerable to violence and abuse, and taking a dreadful toll on their mental and physical health. Our recent research has shown how rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence. This is no way for anyone to live." The number of people sleeping rough in

England has risen for the sixth year in a row. An estimated 4,134 people bedded down outdoors in 2016, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year’s figure of 3,569, and more than double the 2010 figure, when 1,768 people were recorded.


London accounted for 23 per cent of the England total (960), down slightly from 26 per cent the previous year, with Westminster City Council (260 cases) recording the highest number of rough sleepers in both the capital and the country. Outside London, the number of people on the streets rose 20 per cent since 2015, whereas in the capital it was three per cent. After Westminster, the highest numbers of

rough sleepers were recorded in Brighton and Hove (144), Cornwall (99), Manchester (78), Luton (76), Bristol (74), Croydon (68), Redbridge (60), Bedford (59) and Birmingham (55). As bad as they are, the rough sleeping figures

only represent part of the problem. They do not include people staying in hostels, shelters or temporary accommodation. The housing charity Shelter estimates that more than 250,000 people in England are homeless or lack a permanent place to live. There are concerns homelessness will rise further in coming months, fuelled by insecure

Three boroughs support rental scheme for the homeless

London councils in Croydon, Lambeth and Westminster have backed a new £45m scheme to buy homes for letting to homeless people. The three councils have lent the money

to fund manager Resonance and homeless charity St Mungo’s for the second Real Lettings Property Fund, which then buys homes to

rent to homeless individuals and families across the capital. The fund follows an initial scheme launched

in 2013 that saw £57m invested in property purchases. Croydon Council was an investor in the original Real Lettings Property Fund and this second one, while Lambeth and Westminster are new investors.

Set up over 10 years ago by St Mungo’s,

the Real Lettings Property Fund provides a secure tenancy to those who would otherwise be in bed and breakfast emergency accommodation or hostels. The charity supports tenants moving into independent living and provides help and support to ensure the tenancy succeeds. | HMM March 2017 | 21

ore than 4,000 people a night have been sleeping rough on England's streets, a 16 per cent increase on last

tenancies and rising rents, benefit cuts and shortages of affordable housing in many parts of the country. There are also fears that further savings in local authority budgets will result in cuts to housing support services for vulnerable tenants, with more people forced to sleep rough.


Separate statistics showed more than 114,000 households in England turned to councils for help in 2015-16 because they were losing their home. Research by St Mungo's, the homelessness

charity, found four in 10 rough sleepers had mental health problems, 41 per cent needed help with alcohol dependency and 31 per cent with drug abuse. Its chief executive, Howard Sinclair, said

cuts in welfare and services covering mental health, drug and alcohol abuse had contributed to the rise. "There is no single reason. People who end up on the streets are not just homeless and getting somewhere to stay is not the only problem. He added "We have seen cuts to services as part of the austerity agenda but also a lack of

affordable housing, particularly in the south." Scandal

Labour's shadow housing secretary John Healey said "It is a national scandal that in England in the 21st century the number of people forced to sleep rough on our streets is spiralling upwards - and this is only the tip of the iceberg." The housing charity Shelter blamed "the lack

of affordable homes coupled with cuts to welfare" for the "tragic" situation. The Government said it was determined to

help the most vulnerable and was investing over half a billion pounds to tackle the problem of homelessness and rough sleeping. A spokesman for the Department for

Communities and Local Government said "This Government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society, which is why we're investing £550m to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. "Homelessness is more than just a housing

issue so we are now funding projects in 225 local authorities to help those people at risk of becoming homeless, already sleeping rough or those with complex needs, to get back on their feet. " The Government has been supporting the

Homelessness Reduction Bill, proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, to force councils to give people help earlier so they avoid becoming homeless in the first place. However, charities and local authorities have questioned whether Government funding of £48m over three years to help implement the bill, is sufficient.

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