Charities raise concerns about the rise in homelessness and ‘failings’ in the law to protect single homeless people

2 March 2015

The government’s rough sleeping statistics released last week show a 14 per cent increase in the numbers of people sleeping rough in England, compared with Autumn 2013.

The data shows that the figures for London have increased by 37 per cent, which represents an increase above the national average, along with the north-east, north-west and the south-west.

The figures show a steady rise in the numbers of rough sleepers from around 1768 in 2010 to 2744, the 2014 figure. Overall this represents a 55.2 per cent increase over a four year period. However, such figures are difficult to record and have been estimated to be four times the government’s figures.

Homeless charities have raised concerns about the lack of support offered by local councils and called for a tightening of the law to ensure that single homeless people are treated as a priority.

Inside Housing has reported that some local councils have been found to be ‘gatekeeping’ their homeless services, by using tactics to prevent people from making homelessness applications.

Jon Sparkes, the charity’s chief executive of Crisis, commented to the Guardian that: ‘These figures show that the law is badly failing people facing homelessness. Welfare reform, benefit cuts and a chronic shortage of affordable homes mean more and more people are coming to their council as homeless. But as the law stands, far too often when single people ask for help, they are turned away to sleep on the street.’