Homelessness: Rough sleepers in London up by nearly a quarter

Homelessness: Rough sleepers in London up by nearly a quarter

HomelessnessImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,

Figures obtained by City Hall show that between April and September 5,712 people were sleeping rough in London

The number of people sleeping rough in London has increased by nearly a quarter, according to a new City Hall analysis.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has warned of a rough sleeping crisis as cost of living pressures increase.

Figures obtained by City Hall show that between April and September 5,712 people were sleeping rough in London, a 21% increase compared to last year.

The government has said it is committed to ending rough sleeping.

City Hall has suggested the rise has been caused by cost of living pressures, including increases in rents, energy bills and even borrowing costs.

Mr Khan praised the work of outreach workers, charity teams and council staff as “unsung heroes” for trying to help homeless people stay off the streets for good.

“We continue to see a revolving door of people ending up homeless as a result of this escalating cost of living crisis,” he added.

“This cannot be allowed to continue, this new government must act now to prevent the circumstances that lead to people sleeping rough before thousands more are forced to face a winter on the streets.”

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Photographer Anthony Dawton says people pretend the homeless community “is not there”

The mayor said he had committed £36.6m from this year’s budget to tackling homelessness, but he has called on the government to immediately freeze private sector rents.

In addition, he said he wanted to see an end to Section 21 evictions, which occur when a tenant misbehaves or the landlord wishes to stop renting.

Mr Khan also wants to see London’s 32 councils better supported in services aimed at preventing and ending homelessness, including drug and alcohol treatments.

Homelessness charity St Mungo’s has called for benefits to rise in line with inflation – something the government has not been able to comment on until Chancellor Jeremy Hunt delivers his Autumn statement.

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But, chief executive Rebecca Sycamore is adamant action is “needed now”.

“We urge the prime minister and his ministers to act as a matter of urgency to prevent more people ending up homeless this winter,” she said.

Last month the then-secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities insisted that ending rough sleeping remained an “important manifesto commitment”.

Greg Clark said: “We’ve made great strides towards that goal in the last few years, and today’s strategy backed by £2bn of support will give some of the most vulnerable people in our society a roof over their heads and targeted support so they can rebuild their lives.

“The full weight of government is behind this very necessary pledge and this landmark strategy will give us the right tools to identify people at risk of rough sleeping earlier and provide the help they need.”

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities that the government is providing “£2bn over the next three years to tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping”.

A spokesman added: “The latest official rough sleeping statistics show that rough sleeping has fallen to an eight-year low and has almost halved since 2017.

“We are also supporting London boroughs and the GLA with up to £172m from the Rough Sleeping Initiative, which will provide thousands of beds and help individuals find work, manage their finances and access mental and physical health services.”

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