Crisis shocked at 23% rise in rough sleeping
Shocked by the 23% rise in official figures for rough sleeping, Crisis is pressing for law change to make sure local councils help anyone facing homelessness.
The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) today revealed that 2,181 people were recorded by local councils across the country as sleeping rough on any one night, up from 1,768 in last year's count. Under guidance introduced last year all local authorities in England should provide a figure based either on street counts or estimates in conjunction with partner agencies.
Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: "The Government must learn from these figures and ensure that the services and help homeless people need are available in every area. It is shocking that in the 21st century there is still no right to shelter - a single homeless person can approach their council for help and be turned away to sleep on the streets.
"Our No One Turned Away campaign is pressing for a change in the law so that every homeless person who approaches their local council for help gets the advice and support they need and no-one is forced to sleep rough. In the face of these shocking figures it is all the more important that government acts now.
"This rise in the number of people facing the horrors of rough sleeping is truly worrying and must be a wake-up call. Our very real fear is this is just the tip of the iceberg and the worst is yet to come. "
"Independent research for Crisis last year predicted that homelessness in all its forms - not just those we see sleeping on the streets - will increase yet further due to the continuing impact of the economic downturn with rising unemployment and soaring demand for limited affordable housing, and government policy to cut benefits and services, particularly housing benefit."
In response to plans the Government set out to allocate £18.5 million in funding to local authorities to help prevent single homelessness Leslie Morphy said:
"This funding is a welcome acknowledgement by the Government that the safety net for single people at risk of homelessness is sorely lacking. It is a step in the right direction but we are concerned it will not be enough to mitigate the impact of rising homelessness and cuts in services and support. We must also do more to stop people becoming homeless in the first place by changing the law so all get the help they need. In fact the Government itself is adding to the problem through its cuts to housing benefit up and down the country"