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Jonathan Brady and PA Wire
Homeless credit Jonathan Brady and PA Wire.jpg
Jonathan Brady and PA Wire
UK News

London's rough sleeper figures fall amid warnings of a homelessness crisis

New figures show a drop in the number of people sleeping rough.

Outreach teams recorded 3,444 rough sleepers in Greater London between July and September 2020. This was a 14 per cent drop on the same quarter last year. Half were new rough sleepers, an eight per cent decrease on the same quarter this time last year.

The figures were recorded by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).

The Salvation Army has welcomed the drop but warned that sustained action needs to be taken to ensure short-term gains don't lead to a long-term crisis.

Jonathon Graham from the Salvation Army's Public Affairs Unit told Premier he feels a government initiative introduced during the pandemic has had an impact on the figures and he hopes progress can continue.

"The reason the Salvation Army thinks that decrease has happened is....we think now that the 'Everyone In' initiative, the Government's scheme to bring everyone in, has really kicked in and that has contributed to the decrease quite significantly."

At the start of the crisis, the Government asked local authorities to house all rough sleepers in hostels and night shelters by early April as part of the "Everyone In" campaign.

Jonathon Graham added the number is still higher than they want to see and the Salvation Army is worried the drop in rough sleepers is only temporary. He's also warned about a winter homelessness crisis as communal night shelters aren't going to be able to operate amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government is due to announce a spending review at the end of November and the Salvation Army hopes more money will be pledged to avert future problems.

"We think it's absolutely essential that to make sure we don't lose the gains that have been made today and make further progress that they need to invest at least another 700 million next year and potentially a little bit more just to make sure we can carry on in the right direction."

Lorrita Johnson, the Salvation Army's director of homelessness services added in statement: "Getting 'everyone in' is only part of that solution as people need support to overcome the reasons they ended up rough sleeping in the first place. Nobody chooses a life on the streets, but they find themselves sleeping rough for lots of complicated reasons, including poor mental health, bereavement, unemployment, fleeing abuse and addiction. 

"Without sustained support, our experience tells us that these vulnerable people may end up back on the streets. 
 
"In addition to people sleeping rough, this crisis also covers people forced to live in council-funded emergency accommodation like B&Bs. The economic fall out of the pandemic will lead to fewer jobs and greater personal debt which will increase levels of homelessness, leading to more families sharing cramped temporary accommodation."

The Salvation Army has produced a blueprint called 'Future-Proof the Roof' that calls for a new approach to investment in preventing homelessness. 

Key recommendations include:

Introducing a recording system in city regions outside London with high levels of rough sleeping, so that the Government can accurately calculate the level of investment required to end rough sleeping during this Parliament in line with its manifesto commitment.

Ensuring that the social security system prevents rather than causes homelessness and rough sleeping, by maintaining the recent increase in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), so that people can afford to rent at least three in every ten of the most affordable properties in any given area.

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