“Renewed effort needed to reverse rising tide of homelessness” – St Mungo’s responds to latest rough sleeping statistics

New data reveals capital’s homelessness crisis was worsening even before the pandemic, with two thirds of London’s rough sleepers sleeping rough for the first time.

As new statistics show that two thirds of people who were seen sleeping rough in London last year were doing so for the first time, and a 21% overall increase, leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s is urging national and local government to build on the success of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative and continue working closely with service providers to find longer term solutions that prevent more people ending up street homeless in the year ahead.

New annual figures released today (9 September) from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) service – which is funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) – reveal that:

  • 10,726 people were seen sleeping rough in London between April 2019 and the end of March 2020. This is a 21% increase compared to the 8,855 people seen rough sleeping in the capital during 2018-19.
  • Two thirds (7,053) of those seen sleeping rough last year were seen for the first time, an increase of 28%.
  • The number ending up on the streets whose last home was in the private rented sector has continued to rise, up from 34% last year to 38%.

The CHAIN data for the three months following the pandemic lockdown – from April to June 2020 – has already been released and showed a 77% increase in the number of new people seen sleeping rough in London when compared to the same period in 2019.

Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “The CHAIN figures show that even before the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, London was facing a rising tide of homelessness.

“The Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the early phase of the pandemic proved what can be achieved when we work together with real energy and drive. Thousands were helped to get off the streets, and that initiative undoubtedly saved lives.

“The Next Steps Accommodation Programme and the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, launched by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the GLA respectively, and which will provide four-year capital and revenue funding for homelessness projects, demonstrates that there is recognition of the need for ongoing support.

“The crisis is not over for people sleeping rough, and even now, the numbers are rising again. There is an urgency to develop longer term solutions that tackle the scourge of homelessness for good,” said Mr Douglas.

“We, like the many homelessness charities across the capital, are committed to working with the GLA, national and local government to achieve this.”

He continued: “The data shows, for example, the excellent work done by local authority funded outreach teams through the ‘No Second Night Out’ (NSNO) services in helping people off the streets quickly, with 1,773 people accessing NSNO services last year.

“As the winter months approach, we reach the end of the furlough scheme and austerity begins to bite, we must do all we can to stem the potential increased flow of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, from ending up sleeping rough.”

The CHAIN data can be accessed here.

The next quarterly statistics will be released on 30 October 2020.