More than 10,000 people slept rough in London between April 2022 and March 2023, marking a 21 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from London’s Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).
The news comes as the deadline for the UK Conservative government’s pledge to end rough sleeping in England by 2024 looms near.
Statista’s Anna Fleck reports that a total of 10,053 people were counted sleeping rough between 2022/23, up from the 8,329 people in 2021/22. The latest figure is 54 percent higher than the figure of 6,508 people seen sleeping rough a decade ago, in 2013/14. As the following chart shows, the number has risen year-on-year, with only 2017/18, and 2021/22 as exceptions, the latter of which is likely at least in part due to resources having been allocated temporarily during the pandemic.
But with those Covid-19 emergency provisions phasing out, as well as the cost of living crisis placing more people under more pressure, these figures have surged once more, with CHAIN finding that the number of people spotted sleeping rough for the first time has increased by 26 percent from 5,091 in 2021/22 to 6,391 in 2022/23.
The report’s data also serves to highlight vulnerable groups lacking sufficient support or access to support in society. For example, nearly a third (29 percent) had been in prison historically, while 8 percent had been in care at some point in their life.
The nationalities of people sleeping rough in London remained diverse in 2022/23. After the UK (48.6 percent of the people counted), the most counted nationals were people from Romania (11.7 percent of total), Poland (6.3 percent), India (2.9 percent) and Eritrea (2.9 percent).
While CHAIN’s figures are considered more accurate than several other sources due to the fact they are based on the number of rough sleepers over time rather than on a single night, it is worth noting that rough sleeping is only one form of homelessness, and so these figures are reflective of just one part of an even larger issue. According to a report by the Museum of Homelessness charity, homelessness includes those living in temporary accommodation (an estimated 35.5 percent of the population experiencing homelessness), rough sleepers accommodation (24.4 percent), supported accommodation (13.8 percent), street homeless (10.6 percent), B&B or hotel (4.4 percent), emergency accommodation (4.3 percent), or ‘other’ accommodation types (6.9 percent).