Rough sleeping remains dangerously high across the country. Statistics released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show that we are still at an unprecedented level of crisis in the housing emergency. In 2018, there were 4,677 men and women sleeping rough on a given night in England. Although this has decreased by 2% in the last year, it has increased by 165% since 2010, when current records began.
But official statistics don’t capture the full extent of street homelessness. Today’s figures show how many people sleep rough on a given night and are calculated by local street counts and estimates. They include people who are ‘bedded down’ or about to bed down, as well as people in buildings not meant for habitation, such as indoor car parks or stations.
In November 2018, NOAH helped conduct the statutory street count that forms the basis of annual government statistics on rough sleeping in England. The numbers estimated 69 people were sleeping rough that night, and there was sufficient evidence to verify 47 and 18 were actually counted, or seen rough sleeping.
Although these figures help us to understand the scale of the crisis, they don’t reflect the full extent of rough sleeping across the country. This is because:
- the majority of data is based on estimates, where local authorities consult agencies (outreach workers, police etc.) who have regular contact with rough sleepers
- they are a snapshot of rough sleeping on a given night in Autumn, when fewer people may be sleeping out
- it’s likely that many people are missed, because they are sleeping in concealed locations or avoiding bedding down at night at all, instead riding public transport or walking the streets to feel safer
The count confirmed the majority of people sleeping rough in Luton are doing so in and around the town centre, and that most individuals have multiple support needs including mental and physical health, alcohol and/or drug dependency and family breakdown. A further 61 per cent had no recourse to public funds.
Paul Prosser, Head of Welfare, said: “Our welfare centre has seen increasing demand on its services over the last 4 years to the point that our building is nearing its capacity. The NOAH staff and volunteers are committed to making a difference in the lives of vulnerable people and have supported 44 vulnerable people to avoid eviction during the last year.”
How NOAH are working to solve this national emergency?
In the last year there have been some significant policy developments on street homelessness. In August, the government published its Rough Sleeping Strategy. This set out the government’s plans to make good on its manifesto pledge to halve rough sleeping in this parliament, and to end it by 2027.
As part of this strategy NOAH, in partnership with Luton Borough Council, delivers innovative projects such as the No Recourse to Public Funds Outreach. This service has enabled 152 different people to leave rough sleeping over the last 20 months by supporting them to safely return to their families or gain meaningful employment.
During 2018 we launched two other new projects to tackle rough sleeping which you can read about here.