Increase in number of rough sleepers on England's streets 'highest in decade', figures show

More people are sleeping rough on the streets of England than at any point this decade, official figures reveal.

Local councils estimated there were approximately 4,751 rough sleepers on a single night in autumn 2017, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The figures show a 15% increase from 2016 to the highest point since comparible records began in 2010.

And charity Homeless Link said that the figures amounted to a 73% rise in rough sleeping in three years.

Chief executive Rick Henderson said: "We echo the view of the cross-party MPs of the Public Accounts Committee: this rise in rough sleeping is appalling, with a saddening growth in the number of people without a safe place to stay, and at risk of deteriorating mental and physical health."

Mr Henderson added: "We have a long way to go if rough sleeping is to be eliminated altogether, and as a member of the Rough Sleeping Advisory Group, we will be working with Government and others to ensure a strategic and co-ordinated response is put in place and effective action taken.

"Our members - homelessness and supported housing services - are doing some excellent work; they also need to be recognised as part of the solution, and continued investment in these vital services is critical."

Chief executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes said that action is needed to fix rough sleeping "once and for all".

Shadow Housing Secretary described the figures as 'shameful'. Credit: PA

"While we warmly welcome the Government's pledges to tackle rough sleeping, including a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Taskforce, now that we know the solutions to end rough sleeping for good we're calling on the Government to take swift action to tackle the problem and fix it once and for all," Mr Sparkes said.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said the new figures were "shameful" and "an awful reminder of the consequences of a Conservative Government".

In a further full statement released by Labour, Mr Healey added that the increase was a "direct result of decisions made by Conservative Ministers: a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, crude cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services, and a refusal to help private renters."

He added: "A Labour government will end rough sleeping within its first term in office, and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness."