Dont have an account?Sign up here
As the impact of the economic downturn and the long term housing shortage take hold homelessness is beginning to rise. Homeless Link, Crisis, St Mungo's and Shelter have produced a briefing which sets out the context for these developments by explaining how homelessness is defined and measured and setting out some of the most up to date figures and recent trends.
Homelessness is a complex issue. There is not, therefore, a single straightforward answer to the question 'how many homeless people are there?'. Our network of 500 member charities mainly works with the homeless people who are not accepted by local authorities for housing, so we focus on this particularly vulnerable group. The information below is an attempt to clarify the numbers for MPs and to provide contact details for when more specific information is required for parliamentary questions, constituency requirements etc.
1. Single homeless people.
The best measure of the number of single homeless people on any day is the number of bedspaces in hostels (which are almost always full). This figure excludes rough sleepers. Total bedspaces in England: 43,000
2. Rough sleepers.
On any night a minimum of 1250 people sleep out in England. This is the combined total of estimates and counts of rough sleepers. As a rule of thumb, over a year, about 10 times as many people sleep out as you would find on a single night count. In London, where the problem is most intense, there is more detailed continuous tracking through the CHAIN database run by Broadway (supported by the government). According to CHAIN, 1550 people were seen rough sleeping between July and September 2010. This is a 20% rise from the previous quarter. 25% of those rough sleeping in London come from Central and Eastern European countries because if people lose their job they are effectively destitute.
The costs of single homelessness come from a mix of benefits costs (£10,000) and the costs of the social problems caused if someone is not being properly supported – including use of A&E, ambulances, offending behaviour and addictions (£16,000 per year).
4. Challenges to ending rough sleeping by 2012:
- There has been great progress in helping long term rough sleepers off the streets in London where the Mayor has given clear political leadership. Out of the 205 longest term rough sleepers identified and worked with only 22 now still are on the streets.
- The flow into rough sleeping is increasing, as might be expected now, following the recession. Homelessness is a lagging indicator.
- A big risk is the cuts to the services needed to tackle this increasing flow and prevent people ending up as habitual rough sleepers with all the risks to themselves and the community problems that arise. Today’s London Council’s meeting threatens cuts to 2/3rds of the homelessness services previously supported, including London Street Rescue. Boroughs are discussing cuts with homelessness charities very much higher than the cuts they are receiving from government, despite the national wish to protect “the most vulnerable.”
- The cuts to housing benefit levels are likely to mean many people have to leave their private rented homes in London and the South East if they are not working. We know that loss of a private tenancy is a major source of homelessness.
- Pressures on families from unemployment, short hours and debt are increasing and highly likely to increase the flow into homelessness and onto the streets.
- There is currently no effective route off the streets for European citizens who have lost their jobs, but have not worked continuously. As many work in low paid temporary work, this has led to many staying on the streets hoping to get back into work
5. For more information
Our website provides a wide range of information on homelessness and rough sleeping, including statutory homelessness.
If you would like specific information regarding your constituency, please contact mailto:email@example.com