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30 June, 2021 Open access

Rough sleeping in London rose by 3 per cent in 2020/2021 despite Covid-19 efforts to keep people off the streets

Commenting on new statistics released today, Crisis warns that the progress made last year to reduce numbers of people sleeping rough is in 'imminent danger of being lost'

New annual statistics show that rough sleeping in London rose by 3 per cent in 2020/2021, despite Covid-19 measures to keep people off the streets.

In the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) statistics for 2020/2021 - funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and managed by St Mungo’s - the Network reports that the number of people seen rough sleeping across the capital increased to 11,018 in 2020/2021, up 3 per cent from 10,726 in 2019/2020.

In addition, the figures show that -

Elsewhere, the report highlights that outreach teams and other support services helped 6,130 (56 per cent) of rough sleepers to access accommodation or return to their home area in the year. Of those accommodated during the year, 3,365 were placed in Covid-19 emergency accommodation provided by local authorities or the GLA under the government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

Commenting on the figures Chief Executive of Crisis Jon Sparkes said today -

‘Last year we saw brilliant but short-lived measures that dramatically reduced the numbers of people sleeping rough. But the commitments made at the start of the pandemic have fallen away and this progress is now in imminent danger of being lost. 

As the government looks ahead to restrictions lifting across the country and the return to ‘normal’ life, it is unacceptable that we are seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels of rough sleeping across London. We are supposed to be building back better. We cannot and should not tolerate a society where people are left with no option but to bed down in doorways and underpasses. 

We need long-term solutions if we are to end rough sleeping for good. This must be led by a national strategy that commits to help everyone, no matter where they were born, and delivers genuinely affordable housing and programmes like Housing First for people with complex support needs. Without this, we will see people who were helped off the streets during the pandemic, and those at risk of homelessness due to the financial pressures it has unleashed, left at risk and with nowhere to go.’

For more information see Rough sleeping rises in London despite pandemic effort - Crisis responds.