Government will miss target to end rough sleeping, Salvation Army warns

published on 31 Oct 2023

A significant jump in the number of people recorded as sleeping rough in London needs urgent Government action, The Salvation Army has warned. 

New figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) highlight a 12% increase in the numbers of people sleeping rough in the capital between July and September 2023 compared with the same time last year.

The Salvation Army has warned that not only will the Government miss its target of ending rough sleeping by 2024 but levels of rough sleeping could start to spiral. 

In total during the period July-September 2023 outreach teams recorded 4,068 individuals sleeping rough in the capital. Of that total:

  • new rough sleepers account for 51% of all rough sleepers
  • intermittent rough sleepers account for 38% of all those recorded in the period, and
  • 12% of those recorded during the period were living on the streets.

The Salvation Army is preparing to support rising numbers of people forced to sleep rough this winter and is calling on the Government to urgently increase homelessness funding in line with inflation. 

Director of The Salvation Army Homeless Services, Nick Redmore, said: 

“Winter is coming. We need to take immediate action to protect people facing sleeping on the streets and long-term action to reverse this worrying trend in rising rough sleeping. 

“As the temperature drops, The Salvation Army will be providing emergency temporary accommodation to keep people safe and warm as well as providing drop-in support and hot meals. 

“However, The Government must ensure that homelessness prevention has the right investment in order to meet its goal to end rough sleeping and that furthermore, the underlying causes of rough sleeping are addressed. Not only should funding match inflation but it needs to recognise that with rates of rough sleeping and homelessness rising, the need is growing, and services are already stretched to maximum.”

The Salvation Army is committed to ending rough sleeping and is calling for the Government to:  

  • Reverse its freeze on the value of Local Housing Allowance rates to enable people claiming Universal Credit or housing benefit to afford to rent at least three in every ten of the most affordable properties in any given area.   
  • Introduce the same recording system of the rough sleeping population as in London (CHAIN statistics) to other cities and regions in the UK with high levels of homelessness, providing detailed information on the number of homeless people across the whole country in need of support.
  • Extend priority need for homelessness support to include people who are sleeping rough. 
  • Make sure mental health and addiction support is part of local authority homelessness strategies and that targets are set on the number of homeless people who are provided with mental health and addiction support alongside existing targets for accommodation.

The Salvation Army provide a bed for 3,000 people every night in 81 residential hostels, called Lifehouses, across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Officers, staff, and volunteers offer not only practical support in hot food, clothing and a friendly face but also access to wider support and signposting to specialist services and provision. 

The London CHAIN figures are the most detailed data in England that measures rough sleeping. Robust methods for recording numbers of rough sleepers for the whole country are needed, so that support services can be properly planned and sufficiently funded. 

Salvation Army Officer delivering a parcel to a family's doorstep

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