16% rise in rough sleepers
Last week (25 January 2017), the Department for Communities and Local Government published the latest rough sleeping statistics for England.
The headline figures make depressing reading:
- The autumn 2016 total number of rough sleepers counted and estimated is 4,134.
- This is up 565 (16%) from the autumn 2015 total of 3,569.
- The number of rough sleepers has increased by 3% in London and 21% in the rest of England since autumn 2015.
- London had 964 rough sleepers in autumn 2016, which is 23% of the England total.
As you can see the total of people sleeping rough in England has increased every year and is now well over double the number in 2010. While the rate of increase in London has slowed, there has been a spike in the number of people sleeping rough in the rest of the country.
Profile of rough sleepers
This is the seventh annual statistic release on rough sleepers since new guidance was introduced in 2010 and the first to include some basic demographic information about those found sleeping rough, covering gender, age and nationality.
Of the 4,134 rough sleepers counted in autumn 2016:
- 509 (12%) of rough sleepers were women
- 288 (7%) of rough sleepers were under 25 years of age
- 714 (17%) of rough sleepers were EU nationals from outside the UK
- 194 (5%) of rough sleepers were from outside the EU
Compared to the rest of the country, rough sleepers in London were less likely to be female (9% vs 13%) and under 25 years old (3% vs 8%) but more likely to be from the EU (32% vs 13%) or from other non-EU countries (12% vs 2%).
Analysis of the figures undertaken by the Guardian showed that when population size is taken into account over 100 local authorities recorded rough sleeping rates above the national average in 2016, the bulk of them in the south of England.
On this measure Westminster, Brighton and Hove and Luton as well as Cambridge, Canterbury, Exeter, Kings Lynn, Hastings, Mansfield, Oxford, and Southend all have disproportionately high numbers of rough sleepers compared to their local population. Some 29 councils estimated that there were zero rough sleepers in their area at the time of the count last Autumn.
As if these figures weren’t shocking enough, there are also fears that widespread local authority cuts to housing support for vulnerable tenants will increase the numbers of people forced to sleep rough.
As Shelter point out, rough sleepers are only the tip of the homelessness iceberg:
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