Rough sleeper numbers might be stabilising, figures for Wales and England show

Author: Caroline White

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The number of rough sleepers in Wales appears to be stabilising, reveal the latest annual figures in National The Rough Sleeper Count.

The Count is an estimate of the number of people sleeping rough over a two-week period and over a one night period in Wales.

Local authorities estimate that the figures show an additional two people sleeping rough over the two-week period compared to the same time last year, an increase of less than one per cent to 347 people.

Local authorities also reported 158 people sleeping rough on the night of the snapshot count, a decrease of 16 per cent or 30 people, on the previous year’s figures. But bad weather was reported across Wales on the night of the count which may have affected figures.

Across Wales there were 184 emergency bed spaces on the night of the snapshot count, of which 18 per cent or 33 bed spaces were unoccupied and available.

“While we have to be cautious about these estimates, the number of people sleeping rough appears to be stabilising overall and in some areas numbers appear to actually be decreasing,” said local government minister Julie James.

“We all know from walking through our towns and city centres that this most visible form of homelessness remains persistent in Wales, and there is much more for all of us to do,” she added.

The Welsh Assembly had invested more than £30 million to tackle the issue and was committed to providing more affordable housing and protecting stocks of social housing, she said.

Last week, the equivalent annual statistics* for England pointed to a similar trend, in that the overall number of rough sleepers had fallen to 4677, down by 74 people or 2 per cent from the 2017 total of 4751.

Nevertheless, the figure was up by 2909 people or 165 per cent from the 2010 total of 1768, the figures showed.

The number of rough sleepers has risen by 146 or 13 per cent in London, and fallen by 220 or 6 per cent in the rest of England, since 2017.

The capital accounted for 27 per cent of the total number of people sleeping rough in England- up from 24 per cent of the total in 2017.

Nearly two-thirds of rough sleepers (64 per cent) were UK nationals, compared to 71 per cent in 2017, while around one in five (22 per cent) were EU nationals from outside the UK, compared to 16 per cent in 2017.

Local Government Association housing spokesman councillor Martin Tett said that, “Proper resourcing of local government funding is essential if we are going to end homelessness.”

*Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2018, England. Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 31 January 2019.


Editorial team, Wilmington Healthcare

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