Decline in numbers of rough sleepers in England

The number of rough sleepers in England fell by a third over a year, official figures suggest.

The number of people seen sleeping rough on a single night in England fell by 37% in 2020 compared with the number in 2019.

Government statistics show 2,688 people on the streets on one night in autumn 2020, down from 4,266 in 2019.

In the House of Commons, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he was “heartened” by “this fantastic result”.

Despite the decrease, Labour has said it is “extremely concerning” that this number of people were seen sleeping on the streets during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

While the government has been widely praised for its efforts during the first months of the pandemic, charities and politicians have criticised it for not providing the same level of support as the UK experienced a second wave of infections over the autumn and winter.

Rick, Homeless Link Image

Responding to these statistics, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, comments:

“Significantly fewer people are now sleeping rough on a single night and this achievement is something to celebrate. It is in no small part due to Everyone In, and the Next Steps Accommodation and Protect Programmes brought in to protect against Covid-19.

“While it is unfortunate that it took exceptional circumstances – a global pandemic – to prompt the focussed action and investment required, it proves what can be accomplished with joint effort across government and between sectors.

“However, we cannot ignore the unacceptable fact that thousands of people are still forced to sleep on our streets. People with no recourse to public funds, and those newly arriving on the streets having lost jobs and homes during the pandemic, continue to be overlooked in the current homelessness response, to their huge detriment.

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