Figures published today show a 26% increase in rough sleeping in England between 2021 and 2022.
The figure is based on a shapshot taken on one single night in November 2022. In Norwich the figures buck the national trend and show a 30% reduction on the previous year.
The count was published today by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities and found the following:
- 3,069 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in England on any given night.
- This figure is 26% higher than in 2021.
- It is the highest year on year percentage increase in rough sleeping since 2015.
- Rough sleeping has increased by 74% when compared with the 2010 count (when the methodology was first used).
- The London Borough of Westminster recorded the highest number of people sleeping rough on any given night, with 250 people counted.
- The findings end a run of rough sleeping falling for four years in a row.
Why is the figure in Norwich lower?
The count in Norwich found seven people sleeping rough, but homelessness charity St Martins believe that is seven people too many. CEO Dr Jan Sheldon said, “While we are pleased to see a reduction from last year, it is unacceptable for people to resort to sleeping on the streets. Let’s not forget that we are not simply talking about statistics, but about real people who are suffering in plain sight.”
“We have been working hard to develop our services to ensure that we can quickly support people off the streets. Our ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub’ has been crucial in keeping numbers down, as well as our ‘no second night out’ initiative. Our hostels are always full; no sooner someone moves on from our accommodation their space is filled. The cost-of-living crisis began to bite by the end of last year, resulting in more people becoming homeless, so the fact that we have seen a reduction in numbers amid an economic and housing crisis is a testament to the commitment of local services, as well as the support of local people.”
In Norwich additional accommodation provided by the Winter Night Shelter, a service provided by Norwich City Council, helped to reduce the number of people sleeping rough, and has proved to be valuable in offering opportunities for support services like Pathways, led by St Martins, to engage with people in need of permanent accommodation.
However, the charity fears that continuing financial pressure will have a catastrophic impact in the year ahead. Dr Sheldon said, “Many of our services were commissioned when inflation was a fraction of what it is now. Contracts to pay for these services have not met this increase. We are facing the decision to decline to provide services or fulfil them at a deficit, with the gap plugged by fundraising and shaving off costs wherever we can.”
The numbers in the report reflect only those sleeping rough. St Martins says there are many people struggling to maintain their accommodation or who are sofa-surfing. Dr Sheldon said, “If and when these people reach the end of their options, we could see more people arriving on the streets without having the capacity to support them.”