23 February 2012
UPDATE - 8 March 2012 - alarming new homelessness statistics announced
St Mungo's is urging the Government's Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness to ensure that the rising number of rough sleepers on the streets, especially those with more complex problems, don't become ‘stuck' there.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced that the number of rough sleepers has risen by almost a quarter, 23 per cent, between autumn 2010 and 2011 according to its latest official count figures released today.
London had 446 rough sleepers, the highest number of all of the regions and 20 per cent of the national total of 2,181.
The South East and the South West had the next highest numbers with 430 and 337 rough sleepers respectively. These three regions between them had 56 per cent of the total of all rough sleepers in England.
In an accompanying statement, Housing Minister Grant Shapps talked about how "non UK residents now account for over half the rough sleepers in our capital."
Charles Fraser, St Mungo's Chief Executive, said: "Homelessness and migration are inextricably linked, and without a coherent approach to helping people leave the streets behind them - through a combination of assertive outreach work, the No Second Night Out initiative, and emergency housing - we will continue to see people stuck on the streets whilst their health deteriorates.
"This cannot be acceptable. To deny migrants access to publicly-funded services - the "no recourse to public funds" route - has failed to change behaviours, and does not seem suitable for a city which wants to welcome the world. Shelter is one of the most basic human needs, which is why we have for more than ten years been urging that a right to shelter be recognised.
"We are working determinedly with local and central government, and the Mayor, to tackle rough sleeping in London, and we hope they will take note of our ideas about how to do so."
Contact Gemma Hollingshead 07979 018 734, or out of hours on 07713 266 617.