New data has revealed the number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by 23 per cent in a year.
The figures were gathered by local authorities in a single night last autumn, and compared with an assessment 12 months earlier.
The statistics show that on one night in 2011 there were 2,181 rough sleepers in England, up 413 from 1,768 on the same night the previous year.
London and the South East had the highest number of rough sleepers with more than 400 in each region. More than half of London's rough sleepers come from overseas, with a notable growth in people from Central and Eastern Europe. The North East had the fewest rough sleepers with 32.
Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing and Local Government, has pledged an additional £18.5 million to help councils tackle rough sleeping. This is on top of an existing £400 million fund to prevent homelessness.
He said: "This country has some of the best homelessness services for those who become destitute in the world, but rough sleeping is still on the rise, and I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent anyone spending a second night on the street."
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: "The government must learn from these figures and ensure that the services and help homeless people need are available in every area."
In 2010 it became a requirement for all councils to provide an estimate of rough sleepers.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies