Recently released figures show that for the seventh consecutive year the numbers or rough sleepers in England has once again risen, and the grim reality is that this current data most likely does not show the true level of street homeless on our streets today.
These figures make depressing reading, and only account for the individuals sleeping rough for one night and it is estimated that there are thousands more who are ‘hidden’ and not captured within these official statistics; young people for example, sofa-surfing, sleeping on public transport or staying wherever they can to avoid sleeping on the streets.
The “Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2017, England” published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government back last month show that an estimated 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017. This is an 15% increase on the previous years statistics and are up 169% since 2010.
The reasons behind this sharp increase are complex and while they cannot be attributed to one single cause we cannot ignore the actions and policy of the current government who’s austerity driven manifesto has reduced local authority funding, failed to investment in affordable homes and made cuts to housing benefit that can only be seen as a huge contributor to what we are all too regularly seeing in towns and cities across the country.
Reductions to the public health grant has also led to huge disinvestment and reduced funding for substance misuse, mental health, school nursing, health visiting and other services aimed at reducing inequalities and preventing ill health.
Homeless charity Crisis have issued a warning about the consequences of failing to address the issues at the root of the problem.
Their recently released report predicts that the core homeless population (now at 236,000 people) is set to increase by more than a quarter over the next ten years, with those sleeping rough in the United Kingdom due to swell by 76 per cent should current harmful policies not be halted.