Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has warned that the progress made in reducing the number of people sleeping rough in London during last winter will be lost if Government support is not maintained as the cost of living crisis escalates.
New data released today (29 April 2022) by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) which covers January to March 2022 shows:
- The total number of people seen sleeping rough in London reduced by 220 from 2,949 in October to December 2021 to 2,714 (8%)
- Of those, 1,295 were sleeping rough for the first time which is slightly fewer than the previous three months when there were 1,314 people but is down 17% on the same period the previous year
- 363 people were considered to be living on the streets which is 26% lower than the previous quarter, but up 15% from the year before.
St Mungo’s Director of Rough Sleeping Petra Salva OBE said: “During the time covered by this data the very welcome and much-needed extra Government support via the ‘Protect and Vaccinate’ money and the ‘Winter Pressures Fund’, as well as accommodation made available during periods of severe weather, were accessible. And the figures are testament to what can be achieved when adequate funding for support services and move on accommodation is in place.
“However since the end of March, we have begun to see concerning warning signs of what may be ahead.
“The cost of living crisis is escalating and that, combined with those extra support measures coming to an end, means we are in the very worrying situation where we are starting to see more people coming, or returning to the streets.
“There is a risk that all the good work done during the winter will be wiped out as the threat of homelessness becomes an increasing reality for more and more people.
“The allocation of the next phase of the Rough Sleeper Initiative 2022-25 funding which is due shortly will be essential and we hope that through it the Government will provide adequate funding to meet the current need, and the increase in demand expected over the coming months.
“Whatever we face, St Mungo’s teams which include outreach, advice and support will continue to do all they can – 365 days a year – to support anyone who is sleeping rough.”
Earlier this week, the Government released its Statutory Homelessness figures for October to December 2021 which reflect the number of people and household who are defined as being at risk of homelessness.
The figures indicate a significant increase in the number of households facing losing their homes as a result of rent arrears in the private rented sector (up 40% from the same period in 2020) and an increase of 17% from the previous three months of households at risk of homelessness through no fault (Section 21) evictions.
As they cover the period before the energy price cap or the National Insurance increase came into effect and when inflation was at a lower rate it is likely the figure will have risen since.
CHAIN is commissioned and funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and managed by Homeless Link.
Anyone who is concerned about a person who is sleeping rough should contact Streetlink via streetlink.org.uk