Latest rough sleeping figures in London demonstrate urgent need to ‘capture and capitalise’ on the success of ‘Everyone In’

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has responded to the latest statistics on rough sleeping in London, which demonstrate the need for ‘long-term solutions’ to build on the success of the emergency response during Covid-19.

The new data published today (30 July) is produced by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) which is commissioned by the Mayor of London and managed by St Mungo’s.

In total during the period April – June 2021 outreach teams recorded 2,589 individuals sleeping rough in the capital, which is a welcome 39% decrease on the total figure for the same period last year.

Of that total:

  • People new to rough sleeping account for 45% of all those recorded
  • People intermittently sleeping rough account for 40% of all those recorded
  • 15% of those recorded during the period were living on the streets
  • 74% of people recorded as sleeping rough in London spent just one night on the streets
  • The most frequently reported support need amongst people sleeping rough was mental health at 49%

However, the overall CHAIN data for the timeframe covered also shows a worrying increase in the number of people recorded as living on the streets. This number is 50% higher than the preceding year.

Last week (26 July), St Mungo’s urged the Government to act on recommendations made in the first interim report of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, which calls for additional, long-term funding to effectively address the prevention and long-term support measures needed to end rough sleeping.

Petra Salva OBE, St Mungo’s Director of Rough Sleeping, Westminster and Migrant Services, said: “The pandemic’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative was a fantastic opportunity to get the majority of people who were rough sleeping, or at risk, into safe, secure accommodation. We know there has been a significant reduction in the number of people sleeping rough due to this scheme, but these latest figures show again that street homelessness is not a static issue.

“It’s concerning that the number of people living on the streets has increased in the last year. Our outreach teams tell us these are a mix of people with no recourse to public funds who have lost their accommodation, or people who were temporarily housed during ‘Everyone In’ but who have returned to the streets as Covid restrictions lift and services have not yet been able to offer them longer term options that work for them.

“There continues to be a group of people whose support needs are not being met, particularly people tackling substance use and mental health issues, as well as homelessness or entitlement status. Unravelling these issues can be lengthy and complex.

“It’s so important that we capture and capitalise on the gains made during the pandemic. The recommendations made in the Kerslake Commission report will help us to continue this co-ordinated, partnership working and provide increased support options for people with no recourse to public funds and complex needs.

“We hope rough sleeping will continue to be treated as public health emergency with appropriate policies and funding, focusing on affordable housing and welfare support that will help prevent homelessness.”