Increase in rough sleeping shows the impact of funding cuts

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 - 9:57am

Figures published today show that rough sleeping in England has increased year on year since 2010. 

  • Rough sleeping up 5% from 2012 – year on year increases seen since 2010
  • Areas most affected by welfare reform and funding cuts show sharpest increases; where funding has been protected this increase is marginal
  • Homeless Link calls for continued investment to prevent numbers rising further

Figures published today show that rough sleeping in England has increased year on year since 2010.

The Government’s rough sleeping statistics state that in 2013 an estimated 2,414 people were sleeping rough on any one night. Although the numbers have risen continually for the last 4 years, the rate of increase this year has reduced to 5%. Since 2010 the estimated number of rough sleepers has risen by 37%. 

Due to localism, the picture is variable, with around half of areas seeing a decrease and the other half seeing an increase. According to Homeless Link, decreases are largely down to charities working hard to find and house those who end up on the streets.

In areas where increases have occurred, the pressures of welfare reform and funding cuts have been the main driver. In Derby for example, where last year the city council began a programme of 82% cuts, estimated rough sleeping numbers have risen by 96% in the same period.

Responding to the figures, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of umbrella body Homeless Link, said:

“Any increase in rough sleeping is bad news, but we are encouraged that homelessness services been able to contain this issue that is so damaging to people and communities. This has been possible because many local authorities have understood the essential nature of these services and attempted to protect funding, despite facing increasing financial pressure.

“Our own research shows that rough sleepers are getting help more quickly and fewer are ending back up on the streets. However, without this essential help in place, rough sleeping can quickly spiral out of control. In Derby for example, they have slashed funding and seen rough sleeping numbers nearly double.”

“There are many issues, such as welfare reform, that could lead to further rises in rough sleeping. This should serve as a clear warning sign that cutting funding for housing related supported now will have a serious impact in the future.”

Click here to read the Government's analysis.