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25 February, 2021 Open access

Annual ‘snapshot’ count of rough sleepers in England during autumn 2020 Covid lockdown shows 37 per cent fall on numbers in previous year

However, even accounting for the provision of accommodation under the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, more than 2,600 people were estimated to be rough sleeping in the count

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) annual ‘snapshot’ count of rough sleepers in England undertaken during the October 2020 Covid-19 tier restrictions and November 2020 national lockdown shows a 37 per cent fall on numbers in the previous year.

In its latest snapshot - that provides a count of the number of people sleeping rough on a single night between 1 October and 30 November each year based on information collected by local authorities in England - the MHCLG highlights the likely impact of the Covid-19 pandemic -

‘This year’s rough sleeping snapshot coincided with a national lockdown throughout November and the tier restrictions in October. This is likely to have impacted people’s risk of rough sleeping and should be noted when comparing this year’s annual snapshot figures with previous years.’

As a result, the figures show a fall in the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2020 to 2,688. This is down by 1,578 people or 37 per cent from last year and down 43 per cent from the peak in 2017 (but up by 920 people or 52 per cent since 2010).

Responding to the figures, chief executive of Homeless Link Rick Henderson said today -

‘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.

Prevention will be key going forward, but the end of the eviction ban in March and the risk that the Universal Credit uplift will be removed, threaten this. Having achieved so much, we must not lose momentum. We need to bring and keep everyone in for good, developing a longer-term funding strategy to ensure sustainable results and addressing the root causes of homelessness in all its forms.’

For more information, see Rough Sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2020 from