London rough sleeping hits record high with 18% rise in 2018-19

Sadiq Khan blames crisis on welfare reforms and lack of investment in social housing

Rough-sleeping figures in London have hit a record high, with 8,855 people recorded as bedding down on the capital’s street last year, according to annual Chain figures published by by the Greater London Authority.

The 18% year-on-year rise in 2018-19 was called a “national disgrace” by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who blamed the crisis on welfare reforms and a lack of investment in social housing.

The latest figures were two and half times the equivalent number recorded in 2009-10, when 3,673 people were identified as rough sleeping.

5,529 new rough sleepers were spotted on the capital’s streets last year – equivalent to 15 people a day finding themselves sleeping rough for the first time. More than a third had lost private rented accommodation.

Khan said: “The rise in rough sleeping across the country and in London is a national disgrace and at City Hall we have doubled our rough-sleeping budget and the size of our outreach team, helping record numbers of rough sleepers.

“But the figures show more and more people continue to be forced on to the streets by the government’s policies – from welfare cuts to a lack of investment in social housing. This includes non-UK nationals who, thanks to a woeful lack of action from ministers, support services are often unable to help.

Rough-sleeping figures 2019

“This cannot be ignored any longer. Government must urgently act to resolve long-standing immigration issues and provide access to accommodation and employment, if we are to ever end this crisis.”

UK nationals accounted for 49% of rough sleepers in the capital. Rough sleepers from central European countries, including Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Bulgaria accounted for 31% of the total.

The local authority areas in the capital with the biggest concentrations of rough sleepers were: Westminster (2,512); Camden (815); Newham (612); City of London (441); and Southwark (435).

Homelessness services helped 2,379 rough sleepers into accommodation or to return to their home area or country over the year – equivalent to 27% of rough sleepers seen over the year.

The figures from Chain (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) are an ongoing record of rough sleepers identified by outreach workers throughout the year.

They are regarded as a more accurate estimate of rough-sleeping numbers than the official street count, which is based on a single-night snapshot. Official statistics recorded 1,283 rough sleepers in the capital in 2018.

The chief executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: “It’s simply unforgivable that more and more people are being forced to sleep rough on our streets, facing incredible dangers every day, in large part because they cannot afford to keep their homes. This cannot go on. We know with the right safety nets in place – like a housing-benefit system which truly covers the costs of renting – we can tackle the root causes and stop people becoming homeless in the first place.”

Contributor

Patrick Butler Social policy editor

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Rise in rough sleeping is no surprise – it’s now a routine sight | Amelia Gentleman
The number of rough sleepers in the London borough has leapt by 647%. What’s gone wrong?

Amelia Gentleman

25, Jan, 2018 @5:09 PM

Article image
Record number of people sleeping rough in London
Charities say ‘appalling’ surge in homelessness caused by lack of affordable housing

Sarah Marsh

31, Oct, 2018 @4:26 PM

Article image
London faces surge in rough sleepers as coronavirus funding runs out in June
Sadiq Khan says without extra cash homeless people staying in hotels during pandemic could return to streets

Amelia Gentleman

26, May, 2020 @12:26 PM

Article image
Sadiq Khan urges PM work with him to end rough sleeping
London mayor speaks at Christmas Eve event for 100 homeless people at City Hall

Mattha Busby

24, Dec, 2019 @4:51 PM

Article image
London rough sleeping was rising at fastest rate since 2011 pre-lockdown
Figures show 21% increase in people spending night without shelter in year to March

Patrick Butler

09, Sep, 2020 @12:29 PM

Article image
'London is so strange and sad': the sacked hospitality workers sleeping rough
Homelessness charity says it has ‘never witnessed a more distressing situation’ than during coronavirus crisis

Amelia Gentleman

27, Apr, 2020 @5:00 PM

Article image
Rough sleeper numbers in England rise for seventh year running
An estimated 4,751 people bedded down outside overnight in 2017, up 15% on previous year

Patrick Butler

25, Jan, 2018 @1:10 PM

Article image
Rise in women sleeping rough is hidden crisis in England, charities warn
Charities report increase as figures show overall rough sleeping in London is up by 35% in five years

Robert Booth and Sarah Marsh

30, Jun, 2021 @11:59 AM

Article image
Rough sleeping on rise in Birmingham after cuts to homelessness services
Charities, outreach workers and the council all view ‘frightening’ levels of rough sleeping as a result of local authority cuts

Amelia Gentleman

02, Dec, 2016 @4:57 PM

Article image
Charities urge return of homelessness scheme in English lockdown
Campaigners and London mayor want ‘everyone in’ policy brought back after extra £15m of funding promised

Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent

06, Nov, 2020 @6:00 AM