UK Politics

Rough sleeping up by 30% in a year in England

A homeless person Image copyright PA

The number of people sleeping rough in England increased by 30% in a year, new figures show.

A total of 3,569 rough sleepers were identified by counts and estimates by local authorities in Autumn 2015, up from 2,744 a year before.

Labour said the figures were "the starkest possible reminder" of Conservative housing policy failure.

Ministers said government funding for homelessless over the next four years had been increased to £139m.

The latest figures have been released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which described them as "single night snapshots".

'Extraordinary'

London accounted for 26% of the total, a similar proportion to the previous year. The local authority recording the highest totals was Westminster, followed by Bristol, Brighton and Hove, Manchester and Cornwall.

Labour's shadow housing minister John Healey said: "People will find it extraordinary that in England in the 21st century the number of people forced to sleep rough is going up - and this is only the tip of the iceberg."

He urged ministers to exempt accommodation for homeless people from housing benefit cuts.

Homelessness Minister Marcus Jones said nobody should ever have to sleep rough.

Impact bond

"We have protected homelessness prevention funding and expect local authorities to provide quality advice and assistance to all those that approach them for help," he said.

Mr Jones said a £5m "social impact bond" would help people with mental health problems or addiction to move off the streets.

Separate figures relating to London, compiled by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network, found that 14% of the rough sleepers identified in the capital in 2014-15 were female.

Where nationalities were available, 43% were from the UK, and 36% from Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 or 2007.

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