Rough sleeping in London increased by more than 20 per cent in the last year

Crisis highlights that numbers have almost reached the record seen pre-pandemic, undoing the good work that the ‘Everyone In’ initiative achieved after launching in 2020

Rough sleeping in London was up by more than 20 per cent in 2022/2023, according to new statistics produced by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN).

In its Greater London Full Report 2022/2023, CHAIN presents information about people seen rough sleeping by outreach teams in London between April 2022 and March 2023.

NB – CHAIN highlights that people are counted as having been seen rough sleeping if they have been encountered by a commissioned outreach worker bedded down on the street, or in other open spaces or locations not designed for habitation, such as doorways, stairwells, parks or derelict buildings. However, it does not include people from 'hidden homeless' groups such as those 'sofa surfing' or living in squats, unless they have also been seen bedded down in one of the settings outlined above.

Key findings from the new report include that –

  • a total of 10,053 people were seen rough sleeping in London during 2022/2023 – a 21 per cent increase compared to the total of 8,329 people seen in 2021/2022;
  • the 10,053 total is 54 per cent higher than the 6,508 people seen rough sleeping ten years ago in 2013/14, and has almost reached the pre-Covid-19 pandemic total of 10,726 in 2019/2020;
  • 6,391 people in 2022/2023 were new rough sleepers who had not previously been seen bedded down in London, a 26 per cent increase on the total for the previous year; and
  • nearly a third (35 per cent) of those sleeping rough had one or more support needs, with more than half (51 per cent) of those sleeping rough having mental health needs.

Responding to the figures, Crisis Chief Executive Matt Downie said –

'These figures are incredibly tragic and should serve as a wake-up call for the Government. At this rate, there’s frankly no hope that they will hit their target of ending rough sleeping by 2024. Inflation, rising rents and a lack of good, genuinely affordable homes are forcing more and more people into desperate situations. This is the sharp end of the cost of living crisis

The number of people forced to sleep rough in London has nearly returned to the record numbers we were seeing pre-pandemic. The ‘Everyone In’ initiative, launched in 2020, offered people sleeping on the streets a safe place to stay. To see such progress undone is frustrating beyond belief.'

Mr Downie also highlighted the key actions the government should take to fight the rise in rough sleeping –

'… urgently invest in housing benefit, deliver the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need and fund support services to ensure we can end people’s homelessness for good. Only by addressing the root causes driving people into homelessness in the first place, can we ensure that no-one has to face life on the streets.'

For more information, see Rough sleeping in London rises by 21 per cent – Crisis responds.