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Over 3,000 people estimated to be sleeping rough as numbers rise by over a quarter

THE number of people sleeping rough in England has risen for the first time since 2017, in what campaigners have branded a “massive, collective failure” by authorities. 

Some 3,069 people are estimated to have been sleeping rough on any given night last autumn, a 26 per cent increase compared with the same season in 2021. 

The official figures, published today, bring an end to four successive years of falling numbers. 

Charities say that the rise, the biggest year on year since 2015, is evidence that cost-of-living pressures are pushing people onto the streets. 

The Department of Levelling Up, Communities and Housing figures suggest that the number of rough sleepers is 35 per cent lower than the peak in 2017 but still 74 per cent higher than in 2010, when the Tories came to power.

The increase casts doubt on government promises to end rough sleeping by the end of the current parliamentary term. 

Homeless Link chief executive Rick Henderson said: “This shocking rise in the number of people sleeping rough represents a massive, collective failure.
 
“People are being let down by systems that should protect them, forced onto the streets at the expense of their physical and mental health. 

“The 26 per cent rise is evidence of how the cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated long-standing drivers of homelessness, such as a shortage of affordable housing, an often punitive welfare system and increasingly stretched health services.”

Labour accused the government of standing “idly by while a toxic mix of rising rents, the cost-of-living crisis and a failure to end no-fault evictions hit vulnerable people.”

The figures also show a surge in the number of households threatened with Section 21 – also known as “no fault” – evictions. 

Between July and September 2022, the number of households receiving a Section 21 notice increased by 34 per cent from the same period in 2021. 

The government has pledged to abolish Section 21 evictions, but the legislation has yet to be introduced in Parliament. 

Generation Rent director Alicia Kennedy said: “The ability of landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason ruins lives by silencing tenants living in mouldy homes and, as these figures show, causes thousands of cases of homelessness every month. 

“Life in the private rented sector will not improve until Section 21 is abolished and tenants have security of tenure.”

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