Rough sleeping set to soar over the next decade, charity warns

Posted On: 
10th August 2017

The number of people sleeping on the streets is set to rocket by 75% over the next decade, according to damning new analysis.

A homeless person on the streets of London
Credit: 
PA Images

Overall the tally of those without a permanent home will increase by a quarter while the number of households in “unsuitable” temporary accommodation will double, charity Crisis warned.

The organisation said “now is the time for action” as it urged the Government to reverse the worrying forecast of decline.

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Labour said recent rises in the homeless numbers were a "national scandal" and "a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers".

At any given moment in 2016 some 9,100 people were on the streets while 26,000 households were living in cars, tents, squats or refuges, according to the analysis by Heriot-Watt University.

A further 68,300 households were sofa surfing, while 19,300 were in unsuitable temporary accommodation and 37,200 were living in hostels, the figures commissioned by Crisis showed.

In total some 160,000 households – estimated at just under a quarter of a million people across the UK – were experiencing what Crisis called the “worst forms of homelessness” last year.

And it said if the current approach continues unchanged that number will rise to 200,000 households in 2026, 300,000 in 2036 and almost 400,000 in 2041.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: "We warmly welcome the Government's pledge to tackle rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness. Now's the time for action and long term planning to end homelessness for good."

He added: “Regardless of what happens in people’s lives, whatever difficulties they face or choices they make, no one should ever have to face homelessness. With the right support at the right time, it doesn’t need to be inevitable.

“There are solutions, and we’re determined to find them and make them a reality.”

'NATIONAL SCANDAL'

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said it was a "national scandal" that homelessness figures were "spiralling upwards".

The Labour MP added: "These new figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of Conservative ministers’ seven years of failure on housing.

“The number of people sleeping rough fell under Labour but has risen every year under the Conservatives and has now doubled since 2010. 

“This is a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers: a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, crude cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services, and a refusal to help private renters."

Lib Dem communities spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: "This is a national scandal which the government are failing to tackle, so it will only get worse."

She added: “Britain is one of the richest nations on earth, it is an utter disgrace that thousands of people are still sleeping rough on the streets every night.”

Veterans Aid CEO Dr Hugh Milroy said the figures must be harnessed as chance to tackle the factors that lead to homelessness.

"The causal factors of the problem are wide and deep," he explained.

"As a nation we mustn’t be frightened by this alarming prediction but use it as an opportunity to dismantle the underlying causes such as poverty, social exclusion and the piecemeal approach to our national housing crisis."

He added: "I believe that homelessness is actually a human rights issue and that failure to address it as such will blight this nation for generations to come."

'MINISTERS WILL SET OUT PLANS SHORTLY'

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “This Government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society and we’re working to make sure people always have a roof over their head.

"We know this is an issue Government can’t solve alone and so welcome Crisis’ support for our commitment to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

“Alongside investing £550m to 2020 to address the issue, we’re implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will require councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless.

“There’s more to do and ministers will set out plans shortly.”