Rough sleeping remains a national crisis

New statistics from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government show that 4,677 people slept on the streets in England on a snapshot night in autumn 2018, a reduction of 74 people (2%) from the autumn 2017 total of 4,751.

The number has fallen slightly for the first time following seven consecutive years of rises, but still represents a 165% increase since 2010, when the current methodology for recording rough sleeping was introduced.

Although the overall number is down, across the country the picture is mixed, with a 13% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in London. The rise in London is reflected in the latest quarterly data on rough sleeping from the CHAIN database, also published today.

Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said:

“While the shocking rise in rough sleeping that we have seen in recent years has stopped, a closer look at the figures makes it clear that rough sleeping remains a national crisis. With more and more people dying on our streets or while homeless, it is also a matter of life and death.

“Rough sleeping is preventable, and these tragic deaths can be stopped. But to do that, we need further urgent action, not only to provide emergency support for those sleeping rough now, but also to reverse the years of cuts that have devastated the support services that help people to move on from rough sleeping, or to avoid homelessness in the first place.

“It is worrying that rough sleeping in London is still on the rise. The increase in the number of people sleeping rough from non-UK EU nationals in the capital demonstrates the need for immediate and tailored solutions for this particularly vulnerable group who often face restricted access to welfare and other vital support services.

“The Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy is a welcome first step towards helping people in need on our streets. But with the number of people sleeping rough falling just 2% last year, these figures clearly show that a much greater effort is needed if the Government is serious about meeting its commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022, and end it by 2027.

“Resources need to be focussed not just on helping people move off the streets, but also on the long term housing and support they need to build a life away from rough sleeping. Otherwise we will continue to see vulnerable people returning to our streets.”

St Mungo’s Home for Good campaign is calling on the Government to commit to providing more social housing; a more secure and affordable private rented sector; and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services. Only then will we be able to end rough sleeping and make sure that everyone has a home for good.

Find out more and sign our open letter to Secretary of State James Brokenshire at