Rough sleeping in London doubles in five years

Charity chief blames housing benefit cuts and a lack of affordable housing for rise

Ian Johnston
Friday 01 January 2016 00:38 GMT
The number of rough sleepers in London has doubled in the past five years
The number of rough sleepers in London has doubled in the past five years (Getty)

The number of people sleeping rough on London’s streets has gone up by more than 100 per cent in five years, according to new figures.

The Guardian reported that more than 7,500 people slept rough in the capital in 2015, compared to 3,673 in 2009/2010, according to figures collected by the Combined Homelessness Information Network.

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway, said: “Worryingly, the number of people who’ve previously slept rough and are returning to the streets is rising.

“We need to ask what more can be done for these people, what gaps need to be filled to prevent repeat homelessness.”

St Mungo’s said cuts in local authority funding had meant councils were unable to offer homes to some people in the most need and also blamed housing benefit cuts and a lack of affordable housing for the rise.

It also said migrants from European Union countries were having to sleep rough after they were mistreated by their employers.

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate for London mayor in this year’s election, told the Guardian: “The rise in homelessness has been caused by a toxic mix of government failures: allowing London’s housing crisis to go from bad to worse with fewer genuinely affordable properties available every year, cuts to social care and local authority funding which means there is less support for people who are at immediate risk of becoming homeless, and direct cuts to grants and programmes for organisations that tackle homelessness.

“Taken together it’s had a devastating effect.”

The mayor of London’s office said the current incumbent Boris Johnson was taking the problem seriously.

“The mayor remains committed to working with government, local authorities and the voluntary sector to help ensure no one has to sleep rough on the capital’s streets,” it said.

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