Homelessness on the rise in the South West but falling elsewhere

Homelessness is on the rise around the South West, according to the latest official statistics.

It is the only region in England to see a notable increase in the estimated number of people sleeping rough on the streets, rising by 7%.

That is in contrast to the overall national picture, which the government reports to show a fall in numbers for the second year in a row.

But the total is still 2,498 higher than when the figures were first introduced in 2010.

Bristol is the third worst area for homelessness in the country.

The local authority recorded 98 people sleeping rough on a single night in 2019, behind only the London boroughs of Westminster and Hillingdon.

Homeless charity Shelter reports that at least 70 rough sleepers have died on the city's streets in the past five years.

The issue appears to have improved In Cornwall, however, where the number of homeless people counted has more than halved from 53 to to 24.

The Sedgemoor district on the Somerset Levels has seen numbers swell from three to 25 - one of the largest increases in England.


Credit: ITV News West Country

The profile of the average rough sleeper remains the same - primarily British men aged over 26 years old.

Local authorities took an autumn snapshot, on a single date, of people sleeping rough.

They either estimated numbers by counting visible rough sleepers, or took an evidence-based figure by meeting with local agencies.

The snapshot does not include people in hostels or shelters, sofa surfers or those in protest, squatter or traveller campsites.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the fall represents a "positive start" and that the Government remains committed to eradicating the "social ill" of rough sleeping.

Homelessness charity St Mungo's said the figures are "simply not good enough" and called on the Government to invest an extra £1 billion a year in services.