ROUGH sleeping in England has risen by 27 per cent, while the number of homeless children in temporary accommodation has hit another record high. Two separate sets of statistics released by the government on 29 February show it is failing to get a grip on the housing emergency, says housing charity Shelter.

The latest snapshot figures on the number of people sleeping rough in England in 2023 reveal:

  • 3,898 people were recorded sleeping rough on a given night, a 27 per cent increase in one year.
  • The number of people sleeping rough in England has more than doubled since 2010 when the data started to be collected – up 120 per cent.
  • These annual figures are likely to be an underestimate, as people who sleep in less visible locations can be missed.

In 2019, the government made a manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024, but these figures show it has failed on this promise and the situation has got worse.

New statutory homelessness figures have also been released, showing homelessness in England between July and September 2023:

  • 109,000 households are homeless people in temporary accommodation – another record high figure and up 10 per cent in a year.
  • There are 142,490 children who are homeless – another record and up 16,960 (14 per cent) in a year.
  • In total 78,460 households in England faced homelessness between July and September 2023.

With a general election on the horizon, Shelter is calling for all political parties to commit to ending the housing emergency by building 90,000 social homes a year with rents tied to local incomes.

A report published by Shelter and the National Housing Federation this week has found that building 90,000 social homes would not only pay for itself in terms of economic and social benefits within three years, but it would add over £50 billion to the economy in the long term.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said:“Today’s figures are further proof that the government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the housing emergency. Far from ending rough sleeping, through its own ineffectiveness the government has allowed it to more than double on their watch, while the number of children homeless in temporary accommodation hits yet another shameful high.

“We haven’t built enough social homes in decades, and with rents at a record high, thousands of people are being forced to spend their nights freezing on street corners. Meanwhile families are being pushed into grim hostels and B&Bs miles away from their support networks and where children have to share beds.

“Ignoring a crisis of this magnitude cannot continue. Everyone at risk of street homelessness should be provided with suitable emergency accommodation. But the only lasting solution is for the government and all political parties to commit to build genuinely affordable and good quality social homes – we need 90,000 a year.”

* Read: The economic impact of building social housing here.

* Source: Shelter England