Rough sleeping in England soars by 15% with more than 4,700 people sleeping outside on any given night, new figures show
Crisis calls for urgent action from government and outlines the solutions needed to end the catastrophe of rough sleeping once and for all
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, describes it as a ‘catastrophe’ that rough sleeping has risen by 15 per cent in England, following continual rises since 2010, when evidence shows how the problem can be fixed.
The Government’s official annual street count found that on a given night in autumn last year 4,751 people were recorded sleeping rough. This is more than double since 2010. 
The charity is warning that the true number of rough sleepers is far greater, as its own research finds that more than 8,000 people were currently sleeping rough across England, predicted to rise to 15,000 by 2026, if nothing changes. This is on top of an additional 9,000 homeless people sleeping in tents, cars, trains and buses.
While the charity welcomes the Government’s commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027, it is urging it to take immediate action through its Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Taskforce to tackle this emergency situation and help the thousands of people forced to sleep in dangerous conditions every single night. 
Worryingly, those sleeping without a roof over their head are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence and 15 times more likely to have suffered verbal abuse compared to the general public, according to previous Crisis research. 
Crisis has also published an evidence review undertaken by Cardiff University and Heriot-Watt University for the first time revealing the best evidence from here and around the world on what works to end rough sleeping. 
The review finds the best way to end rough sleeping is by:
- Widely adopting a housing-led approach where housing someone is made priority. This includes the use of Housing First, a programme which gives the most vulnerable rough sleepers their own home and specialist support.
- Taking swift action to quickly end street homelessness through interventions such as No Second Night Out. This programme helps get people off the street and into accommodation and reduces the number of rough sleepers who develop further support needs.
- Taking a ‘person-centred’ approach by tailoring support to take individuals’ needs into account, such as using personalised budgets to commission services.
- Ensuring interventions take account of local housing markets and individuals’ needs.
Any strategy to address rough sleeping must address these principles and sit alongside good quality short term emergency accommodation and prevention services, the charity says.
Chief Executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said:
“It is truly a catastrophe that in a country as prosperous as this, more and more people are finding themselves forced to sleep in dangerous and freezing conditions, when we have evidence to show how the situation could be turned around. Today’s report makes it only too clear that unless we take action as a society, the problem is only going to keep getting worse with every year that passes.
“Rough sleeping ruins lives, leaving people vulnerable to violence and abuse, and taking a dreadful toll on mental and physical health. Our research has shown how rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence. This is no way for anyone to live.
“With the right support at the right time, homelessness doesn’t need to be inevitable. While we warmly welcome the Government’s pledges to tackle rough sleeping, including a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Taskforce, now that we know the solutions to end rough sleeping for good we’re calling on the Government to take swift action to tackle the problem and fix it once and for all.”
Notes to editors
- This is more than double since 2010. (169%). The release provides national summary information on rough sleeping counts and estimates carried out by local authorities between 1 October and 30 November 2017. Rough sleeping counts and estimates are single night snapshots of the number of people sleeping rough in local authority areas. Local authorities decide whether to carry out a count or an estimate. 54 (17%) carried out a count and 272 (83%) carried out an estimate in 2017. They are encouraged to gain intelligence for street counts and estimates from local agencies such as outreach workers, the police, the voluntary sector and faith groups who have contact with rough sleepers on the street. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autumn-2017
- Details of the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-lead-national-effort-to-end-rough-sleeping
- This is according to Crisis’ report It’s No Life At All
- The Ending Rough Sleeping: What Works? An international evidence review (2017) by Mackie,P., Johnsen, S., and Wood, J. is available to download on Crisis’ website: https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/homelessness-knowledge-hub/services-and-interventions/ending-rough-sleeping-what-works-an-international-evidence-review/
Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. We help people directly out of homelessness, and campaign for the changes needed to solve it altogether. We know that together we can end homelessness.