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London Assembly report calls for action as rough sleepers rise 23%

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London Assembly report calls for action as rough sleepers rise 23%

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

London Assembly report calls for action as rough sleepers rise 23% London Assembly report calls for action as rough sleepers rise 23%

With the latest figures showing 2,455 people slept rough in the capital between April and June 2014 – a rise of 23% on the same period in 2013 - the London Assembly All-Party Housing Committee has published its report on tackling rough sleeping.

'No going back' calls for an end to the policy of 'priority need criteria' that excludes most single homeless people getting any offer of accommodation from councils, as they are only required to provide advice. The only exemptions are those who meet strict priority need criteria.

Predictably but sensibly, the report also says that more can and should be done to prevent rough sleeping in the first place. It singles out homelessness advice offered by councils.

Homeless Link, the national membership charity for organisations working directly with homeless people in England, gave a mixed response.

Policy and communications director Jacqui McCluskey Link said: "London has made real progress when it comes to helping new rough sleepers off the streets but more needs to be done to prevent the issue in the first place. All too often people just don’t get the advice or offer of accommodation that could make that critical difference.

"Councils in the capital are under severe pressure but we would welcome any steps that make getting help easier. Preventing rough sleeping is not only good for individuals but saves taxpayers money."

Matt Downie, policy and external affairs director at Crisis, said: "Behind these statistics are thousands of people suffering because of cuts to housing benefit and a woeful lack of affordable housing, particularly in London where demand is greatest. Shamefully, instead of receiving the help they need to rebuild their lives, far too many people are being turned away by their councils because they are not considered a priority for housing.

"London faces a rough sleeping crisis. Today’s GLA report comes as new figures show that in the last three months the number of people sleeping on London’s streets has risen by a shocking 23% compared to last year. This follows successive rises that have seen London rough sleeping soar by 77% since 2009-10.

"We urge the government and the mayor to take heed of this cross party call for action. There must be a change in the law so that all homeless people can receive meaningful help with housing. At the same time, we need the right homelessness services properly funded and housing benefit that meets the real cost of renting. And of course, we desperately need more genuinely affordable homes, particularly in the capital."

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