News story

Rough sleeping hits 11-year low

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The numbers of rough sleepers in England has hit an 11-year low, according to figures published today (15 July 2010).

In total, 70 councils conducted street counts and reported that there were 440 rough sleepers in England on any given night. In comparison, in 2009 76 councils conducted street counts and recorded 464 rough sleepers.

Street Count Methodology

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has said he is sceptical of the methodology behind the street counts - currently, only councils considered to have a problem with rough sleeping have been required to conduct a count.

So he will shortly consult on plans for a complete overhaul on the means of counting rough sleepers, to give councils and charities a credible measure that truly reflects the situation on the streets.

He said:

“Today’s figures show that rough sleeping is at an eleven-year low - but I am sceptical that these figures reflect the situation on the streets.

“Only councils considered to have a rough sleeping problem have been required to conduct counts - so in some of our biggest cities, while local people would be acutely aware of the problem of rough sleeping, official street counts were not conducted.

“That’s why I will shortly publish plans for a complete overhaul of the way the problem of rough sleeping is assessed so councils and charities can be given a credible measure of the problem in their area.”

A long-term campaigner for the homeless, the minister has confirmed that he will do all he can to safeguard homelessness funding in the face of tough economic times. Already, in-year savings of £6.2 billion across Whitehall and the emergency Budget outlining further measures to cut the deficit, government funding for tackling homelessness has remained unchanged.

Mr Shapps also chairs a cross-departmental group of ministers from eight different government departments, working together to see how the policies for which they have responsibility can help address the complex problems that cause people to lose their home.