Homelessness: Rough sleeping five times higher than the Tory government claim

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Has London mayor Boris Johnson made a bold pledge to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of 2012.

Homelessness is now five times worse in the UK than the government admits, according to figures that reveal more than 28,000 people were recorded sleeping rough in a year.

Campaigners have accused ministers of “seriously misleading” the public by providing an “unreliable undercount” of people sleeping on the streets.

The latest official rough sleeping figures, which the government calculates based on a one-night snapshot, show 4,677 people were sleeping on the streets in England in 2018 – down 2 per cent on the year before but 165 per cent up on 2010.

But council responses to a freedom of information (FoI) request show nearly 25,000 people were recorded sleeping rough at least once in England during the latest year on record, according to the BBC.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said the data showed the government’s statistics were “seriously misleading” and demanded an investigation into the “flaws” in the government data.

The BBC asked councils for the number of individuals amid concerns raised last year that the official one-night snapshot did not give the full picture.

Mr Healey said he had written to the UK Statistics Authority to ask them to investigate the accuracy of the government’s statistics.

He said: “These figures expose the shameful scale of rough sleeping on our country’s streets.

“They also confirm that the government’s own published statistics are seriously misleading and an unreliable undercount of the number of people sleeping rough.”

“Ministers should replace these discredited statistics and adopt Labour’s plan to end rough sleeping for good.”

In a letter to the UK’s statistics chief Sir David Norgrove, Mr Healey said: “The government’s rough sleeping statistics are the sole statistics produced by government on rough sleeping so they are naturally and inevitably assumed by the public to be an accurate portrayal of the scale of rough sleeping. This is clearly not the case.

“I would be grateful if you would investigate the flaws in these figures and how the government’s statistics could be improved so they better capture the level of rough sleeping in our country.

During Prime Minister’s Questions last month, Boris Johnson cited the government figures suggesting there had been a 2 per cent drop in rough sleeping – describing it as a “floating glimmer of good news”.

A government spokesman said: “We’re committed to eliminating rough sleeping by the end of the parliament and our efforts have already led to the first nationwide fall in a decade.

“We’re confident our independently verified snapshot provides a good estimate of the numbers of people sleeping rough on a given night. This year we will give nearly half a billion pounds to councils and charities to support homelessness and rough sleeping services and get people off the streets for good.”

Boris Johnson claimed he would end rough sleeping by 2012

In 2009, Has London mayor Boris Johnson made a bold pledge to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of 2012He reiterated this pledge during his re-election campaign in May. … The number of people sleeping on London’s streets has increased every year since Johnson took office in 2008.

Boris Johnson said: “It’s scandalous that in 21st century London people have to resort to sleeping on the streets, which is why I have pledged to end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012.” However, figures released overnight showed the number of people sleeping on the streets in London has more than doubled since 2010.

What are charities and councils calling for?

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Rough sleeping is the most brutal form of homelessness but we still do not have a clear picture of how many people are forced to sleep on our streets throughout the year

“While the current government statistics on rough sleeping are a useful snapshot, based on counting people seen on one night, this cannot hope to accurately reflect the real scale of the problem.”

The Local Government Association has called for the government to restore local housing allowance rates to cover at least the lowest third of market rents.

Housing spokesman Councillor David Renard said local authorities needed the power to start a “renaissance in council house-building”, adding: “Money allocated to councils is increasingly being spent on providing temporary accommodation, meaning there is less for other homelessness services.”

A Government spokesman said: “We’re committed to eliminating rough sleeping by the end of the Parliament and our efforts have already led to the first nationwide fall in a decade.”

“We’re confident our independently verified snapshot provides a good estimate of the numbers of people sleeping rough on a given night. This year we will give nearly half a billion pounds to councils and charities to support homelessness and rough sleeping services and get people off the streets for good.”

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