Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Rough sleeping is not a lifestyle choice – St Mungo’s responds to Home Secretary

St Mungo’s is deeply concerned by the Home Secretary’s recent comments on homelessness and rough sleeping.

Rough sleeping is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but the result of many complex factors. The Government should be focusing on the chronic shortage of housing and statutory support services, rather than condemning vulnerable people and the organisations that prevent them from dying on the streets.

Latest statistics show record numbers of people forced into rough sleeping. It is ironic that currently one of the biggest drivers of homelessness is the government’s approach to clearing the backlog of asylum claims. It is the government’s choice that people are sleeping in tents, not a lifestyle choice.

St Mungo’s priority is to find people a path out of homelessness. The Government must ensure no-one finds themselves there in the first place, and unfreezing housing benefit so that people can actually afford a proper roof over their heads must be the government’s biggest priority.

St Mungo’s has co-signed a letter to the Home Secretary, asking her to urgently reconsider proposals to criminalise the use of tents by people sleeping rough: https://www.crisis.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/open-letter-to-home-secretary-suella-braverman-on-government-proposals-to-criminalise-the-use-of-tents-by-people-sleeping-rough/ 



Rough sleeping figures releases in October 2023 show that:

  • In total, 4068 people were recorded as rough sleeping in the capital between Jul-Sep 2023, this is an increase of 12% on the same period last year.
  • 2086 people rough sleeping for the first time, a 13% increase on the same figure this time last year.
  • 481 people deemed to be living on the streets, 17% higher than the immediately preceding period (Apr-Jun)
  • 1561 people were intermittently rough sleeping, 16% higher than the same period last year.

St Mungo’s provides a variety of services to help people off the streets and recover from homelessness. These include outreach, hostels and supported accommodation, as well as immigration advice, mental health support and provision for victims of domestic violence. Additionally, our Recovery College also provides a learning, training and employment service.

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