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Rough sleeping rises

March 14 2016
Rough sleepers set up camp in Tottenham, London. © Alan Stanton, Creative Commons Rough sleepers set up camp in Tottenham, London. © Alan Stanton, Creative Commons

More than 3,500 people were sleeping rough on England's streets on any one night last year, 30 per cent more than in 2014. More than a quarter of England's rough sleepers are in London. On any one night, figures suggest there are 940 people sleeping on the streets in the capital. The increase comes as London mayor Boris Johnson, who promised to eradicate rough sleeping in the capital by 2012, is about to reach the end of his term in power.

The annual government figures do not include people in hostels or shelters, squatters or travellers. Ninety-seven people were sleeping on the streets in Bristol, 78 in Brighton and 70 in Manchester. Most of London’s rough sleepers were in Westminster, with 55 in the borough of Brent and 48 in the City, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Labour’s London Assembly housing spokesperson Tom Copley said the figures showed Boris Johnson had failed to tackle the problem. He added: “For a Mayor who was elected in 2008 on a pledge to eradicate rough sleeping by the London Olympics, the record will show that it increased every single year under his mayoralty, with more than double the numbers on the streets in 2016 compared to when he took office.

“From spiralling housing costs, poor standards for renters and increases in rough sleepers its clear Boris Johnson’s primary legacy will be London’s housing crisis.”

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes called for action to be taken: “The Government has made positive steps towards tackling homelessness in recent months, particularly in protecting funding and committing to explore legal options to prevent homelessness. “However, the rough sleeping figures are a stark and sobering wake-up call and show just how far there is to go before homeless people get the practical help and the legal protection they so desperately need.”