New figures for London show biggest year-on-year fall in rough sleeping for 10 years

New figures released today (28 June 2022) by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) show a significant drop in rough sleeping across London, with 8,329 people sleeping rough from April 2021 – March 2022. This is a decrease of 24% compared to the previous year, when 11,018 were seen sleeping on the streets of the capital. 

The reduction in the total number of people rough sleeping during 2021/22 has been driven by fewer new people arriving to the streets. The data shows a 32% decrease in the number of new rough sleepers in 2021/22, with 5,091 people seen sleeping rough in London for the first time. This decrease reverses a recent trend – there was a 28% rise in new rough sleepers between 2018/19 and 2019/20.  

According to CHAIN, it is likely that the overall reduction in rough sleeping is due, at least in part, to the Government’s ‘Everybody In’ initiative, which saw people sleeping rough provided with safe, self-contained accommodation as part of the emergency response to the pandemic. While this started in March 2020, it is thought its impact was masked in the 2020/21 figures by the high numbers of people sleeping rough at the beginning of the year. 
While the year-on-year figures show a reduction, rough sleeping is still far more prevalent across London than it was a decade ago, with this year’s figures 29% higher than those for 2012/13, when 6,437 were seen sleeping rough in the capital.  
CHAIN’s data shows that the most commonly reported reason for people leaving their last settled home and being forced to sleep rough was being evicted or asked to leave. This reason was given by 36% of rough sleepers.  
Among those who were sleeping rough for the first time, 825 people were recorded as having approached their local council within the last 12 months seeking support. Crisis’ own research into the Homelessness Reduction Act shows that while good progress is being made, councils are still struggling to prevent people with multiple complex needs from being homeless and at risk of rough sleeping.* 
Matt Downie, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “I’m delighted to see such a significant drop in the numbers of people sleeping rough in London – the biggest year-on-year reduction in the last decade.   
“This is, in part, the legacy of the ‘Everyone In’ pandemic initiative, which saw people sleeping on the streets offered a safe place to stay. This was bold policy making enacted in a time of emergency, but there is absolutely no reason why such an approach shouldn’t become the norm. We know that providing people with accommodation and tailored support is the most effective way to end rough sleeping and gives people the firm foundation they need to leave homelessness behind for good.   
“We are also pleased to have played our part, with the hotel accommodation Crisis provided at Christmas and into January 2022 helping to prevent people being forced to sleep rough.  
“The Government has committed to end rough sleeping by 2024 – a deadline that is fast approaching – and yet there are still thousands of people sleeping on the streets. With cost-of-living pressures likely to become unbearable for thousands of households and rents continuing to rise at pace, the challenge is sustaining progress and continuing to reduce the numbers of people sleeping rough. The Government must urgently turn its attention to ensuring we have enough genuinely affordable homes if it is to keep its promise.”   
*’I hoped there’d be more options’ Experiences of the Homelessness Reduction Act, 2018-2021