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Rough sleeping rises by 27% as the homelessness crisis deepens across England

Crisis is calling on the Westminster government to increase investment in support services and build more social housing if it wants to end rough sleeping and homelessness for good.

Today, the government has released two sets of figures revealing the ongoing homelessness crisis in England.

The annual rough sleeping snapshot provides the government’s estimate for how many people were rough sleeping on a given night in Autumn 2023. It shows:

  • 3,898 people were sleeping rough across England, an increase of 27% on the previous year. This is the second year in a row that the government has reported an increase in rough sleeping and the sharpest rise over a 12-month period since 2015. These figures further confirm that the Westminster government will fail to meet its commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024.
  • The number of people sleeping rough is now 61% higher than it was ten years ago and 120% higher than when data collection began in 2010.
  • The figures also show that street homelessness is rising among women with 568 seen to be rough sleeping last autumn, up from 464 – a rise of 22%. UK nationals remain the biggest proportion of people found to be sleeping rough (62%).
  • Due to the way the rough sleeping count is conducted these figures are likely to be an underestimate as people sleeping in hidden locations, such as on public transport, are likely to be missed.

Alongside these figures, the government has also released the latest statutory homelessness statistics for England which show that the numbers of people trapped in temporary accommodation are again at record levels.

  • Between July and September 2023, 109,000 households were living in temporary accommodation, up by 10% on the same time last year. With many councils facing financial collapse, these figures show the immense pressure many are under to find people stable homes.
  • People sleeping rough and seeking help to leave the streets behind also continues to climb. As of September last year, 4,040 people approached their council while sleeping on the streets and were found as eligible for assistance with ending their homelessness – this is the highest level since 2018.

The figures come as Crisis publishes an open letter calling on the major parties in England to commit to a society wide mission to end homelessness over the next decade, ahead of the next election. The letter, signed by celebrities including Joe Lycett, Aisling Bea and Crisis ambassadors Imelda Staunton and Ellie Goulding, urges party leaders to fix England’s broken housing system and put in place proper support so that people can rebuild their lives away from homelessness.

Responding to the figures, Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “The scale of rough sleeping is now a source of national shame. It is a sign of extreme inequality and must prompt a rethink at the highest levels of government.

“It cannot be overstated how dehumanising sleeping on the streets is. Through our frontline services we hear directly from people who have been spat at, urinated on or attacked simply because they do not have the security of a safe home. Things have got to change.

“To bring these numbers down, we urgently need the Westminster government to put long-term funding into the proven solutions we know help people to leave the streets behind, such as Housing First. But crucially, we also need to see a complete change in approach and a commitment to build the levels of social housing we need every year. 

“By taking these steps we can start to bring these numbers down and, most importantly, ensure that people get the security of a stable home.”


Notes to Editors 

Annual Rough Sleeping Snapshot background:
Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2023 can be found here: 

How the count is conducted:
The government’s annual rough sleeping count is based on a snapshot of a single night, either through a physical street count, an evidence-based estimate by local agencies of the number of people sleeping rough in a local area or an evidence-based estimate with a spotlight count. It is the only official data available in England. Alongside the snapshot the government are also regularly publishing information about the support for people sleeping rough and those at risk of sleeping rough in local authorities across England. This is a more frequent although less robust estimate of people sleeping rough on a single night, compared to the official rough sleeping snapshot statistics.

The system has improved somewhat over the years and has helped provide more of an insight into the scale of the problem than we had in the past. But it’s still not doing the job it needs to.

This disparity is because the government’s counts and estimates inevitably miss a significant number of people living on the streets, including those not sleeping rough when the count takes place, those hidden from view, and those who aren’t bedded down for the night. In areas where there aren't commissioned outreach teams it is more likely that people are missed.

Crucially, these figures are a small part of a much bigger picture. Rough sleeping is the most visible form of homelessness and while tackling it is vital, there are currently tens of thousands of homeless people hidden from view, sleeping on floors and sofas or stuck in hostels, shelters and B&Bs.

Data on statutory homelessness can be found in DLUHC’s Tables on Homelessness: