Over 1,700 rough sleepers spending more than a night on London’s streets
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Over 1,700 rough sleepers spending more than a night on London's streets
New figures show that 1,703 rough sleepers spent more than one night on London's streets in 2011/12.
The figures fly in the face of the London Mayor and the Coalition’s tough attitude towards rough sleeping.
Overall, the amount of rough sleepers has risen by 43%.
London charity Broadway’s figures report a rise to 5,678 people on the streets, of which 70% did not spend a second night.
London Mayor Boris Johnson had pledged to ensure that nobody spends a second night on the streets by the end of the year.
London Assembly Green Party Member, Darren Johnson, said: ““The Mayor’s aim of ending rough sleeping is a distant dream if things continue in this direction.
“When I have raised these concerns in recent months the Mayor has been dangerously complacent, unwilling to call for radical changes.”
The figures will come as a blow to the Government’s pledge to tackle rough sleeping.
Housing minister Grant Shapps last year announced the start of the ‘No Second Night Out’ scheme to tackle the problem.
Shapps has in the past said that London’s rough sleeping situation is a “special problem”.
In February, the MP said: “Non UK residents now account for over half the rough sleepers in our capital, so anyone heading here with tales of Dick Whittington in their head needs to realise that the streets of London and our other cities aren't paved with gold.
“Those arriving from beyond our shores to try and carve out a future in England should come with a thought-through plan to avoid the risk of sleeping on the streets."
Charles Fraser, St Mungo's Chief Executive, said: “These new figures show a startling rise. Let’s not forget that behind each number is an individual in need.
“We support the No Second Night Out initiative in the capital and what that has achieved but with services stretched and demand rising, we need to ensure the capacity is in place to help people off the streets.
“This raises the important question; is preventing rough sleeping high enough on the agenda?”
Matt Harrison, interim Chief Executive of the umbrella body Homeless Link, said: “These figures confirm once again that the recession is fuelling a rise in rough sleeping across England, a situation that some of the Government’s welfare reforms could make worse.
“However, thanks to a joined-up approach by charities, the GLA and councils in London, those who do end up on London’s streets are getting helped more quickly and fewer spend a second night out.
“Ultimately, it’s not right that anyone ends up sleeping out. It’s bad for both individuals and communities.
“In many cases this problem could be prevented. Over half of rough sleepers seek help before the streets or are in contact with some agency.
“We need better advice for people who find themselves homeless, we have to tackle the affordable housing crisis and the Government needs to ensure that welfare reforms do not add to rough sleeping numbers.”
Research released by Homeless Link in February indicates that 57% of new rough sleepers seek advice, from agencies such as councils housing services, between leaving their last home and the first instance of rough sleeping.