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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Rise predicted for 2011

February 10 2011
The number of rough sleepers in London is rising rapidly


A worrying trend that has seen the number of rough sleepers increase in London over the last 12 months is set to continue - and worsen - this year, charities have warned.

St Mungos said that cuts to services designed to help those most at risk of homelessness would see more people forced onto the streets.

Charles Fraser, the charitys chief executive, said: "Right now, the trend line shows that rough sleeping numbers are rising. Great work is being done in helping people off the streets, but we are deeply concerned that the picture will worsen in the year ahead."

The charity said that 1,549 people had been seen sleeping rough in London between July and September last year, with a further 919 contacted on the streets. This was a 19 per cent increase on the previous three months, and 108 more than at the same time last year.

"Central government has pledged to protect the most vulnerable and that cuts will be applied fairly," added Fraser, "but the reality is that some councils are planning cuts in funding to services for homeless people and those at real risk of sleeping rough." Government statistics showed a 14 per cent jump across the country since 2009. This was the first time that numbers had increased over two consecutive quarters since 2003, said the government.

With more than 70 per cent of rough sleepers suffering mental health problems, any cuts in the services they use could have a big impact on homelessness, warned St Mungos. The charity revealed that it would also be facing cuts in the months ahead, with its largest hostel in Lambeth at risk of closure. Its homeless prevention service in London prisons is another of 28 services facing loss of funding as London councils plan a potential £3.2 million in cuts, it said.

The organisations concerns were mirrored by London charity The Simon Community. Allan Cole, a trustee, said: "We are definitely seeing more people on the streets and the situation is going to get worse before it starts to get better." The charity said that it was "making changes" to the way that it conducted its street counts of the capitals rough sleepers, so did not have up-to-date figures, but said that the situation was "definitely getting worse".

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