February 21, 2011

People sleeping rough quadruples

by Jan Harris

The real size of the problem of homelessness has been revealed by a new method of calculating how many people are sleeping rough.

According to the former counting system, 440 people slept rough in England last autumn, but the new system reveals that 1,768 people were sleeping rough during this period.

Under the new systems all councils have to submit a figure compared with the previous system which only took ‘hot spot’ areas into consideration.

Forty-two councils actually counted the number of rough sleepers in their areas while 284 councils submitted an estimate.

The figures were then verified by umbrella group Homeless Link.

The government has promised £18.5m funding to help national charities address the problem of homelessness, with £8.45m of this going to London.

Other charities which will benefit from the funding include Crisis, Homeless Link, the National Homelessness Advice Service run by Shelter and CAB, and UK Refuges Online.

Shelter has warned that the Localism Bill, which aims to reform the social housing sector, could weaken the rights of homeless people.

The bill proposes to remove the duty of local housing authorities to provide accommodation to someone with priority need if the applicant has refused an offer of accommodation considered suitable by the council.

Under previous rules, if an applicant refused private sector accommodation, the council would have to place them in expensive temporary accommodation.

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