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Key points

  • 7,580 people were recorded as rough sleeping in London in 2014/15. This number has increased every year since 2007 and is now more than double the numbers in the mid-2000s.
  • Most rough sleepers in 2014/15 were aged between 26 and 55 (79%). The vast majority were men (86%). 43% were born in the UK and 36% were from Central and Eastern European countries.
  • 17,500 households were accepted as statutory homeless by a council in London in 2014/15. This has risen each year since 2009/10 but remains below the 2003/04 peak of 30,000. The increase has been driven by a rise in those becoming homeless at the end of a short-term tenancy which, at nearly 7,000 is seven times higher than in 2009/10.
  • 5.1 households were accepted as homeless in London for every 1,000 households in 2014/15; in the rest of England the figure was 1.9. The rate was highest in Barking & Dagenham at 9.9.
  • 48,000 London households were living in temporary accommodation at the end of 2014/15, three times higher than the rest of England put together. 38,000 of them contained children (amounting to 74,000 children).
  • At the end of 2014/15 15,600 households were living in temporary accommodation outside their home borough. Four boroughs had more than half of their temporary accommodation placements outside of their area: Kensington & Chelsea, Haringey, Barnet and Merton.
  • In 2014 12,000 households in London stopped being classified as homeless and under the council's statutory duty: 60% had moved on to a long-term tenancy agreement with a registered social landlord and 9% moved into a shorthold private rented tenancy. The remaining 32% became ineligible for help.
  • In 2014/15, 4,000 cases of homelessness in London were relieved by councils outside of their statutory duty. In another 9,000 cases households were prevented from becoming homeless by moving home and in 18,000 cases homelessness was avoided by enabling people to remain in the same home.


This section, which focuses on one of the most extreme forms of poverty, contains some of the most alarming recent poverty-related trends. 1,000 more people were seen rough sleeping in London in 2014/15 than the year before. The number accepted as statutory homeless by the council has risen for a fifth year to a rate of 5.1 per 1,000 households compared with 1.9 in the rest of England. 48,000 London households were living in temporary accommodation at the end of 2014/15, three times higher than the rest of England put together.

These rises in homelessness are partly the result of the wider problems of affordability in London. With a shortage of affordable housing, the private rented sector now contains growing numbers of low-income households. For the very poorest this tenure can be a gateway to homelessness: almost all the rise in homelessness acceptances in the last five years has been due to the end of a private tenancy.

At the same time it is becoming almost impossible for local authorities to help those who do become homeless. When a household is accepted as homeless it is the local authority's duty to help them find suitable settled accommodation and provide temporary accommodation in the meantime. Both types of accommodation should have rents that fall within the housing benefits limits which have been dramatically cut in London in recent years. In some cases local authorities have no choice but to place households outside their area or in expensive B&B accommodation in the short term while something more appropriate can be found.

While London has seen considerable improvement in terms of the number of people in employment, a much smaller number of vulnerable households are facing extreme hardship. High rents and cuts in housing benefit are making it harder for the poorest to find somewhere to live and the authorities intended to protect them when they cannot are finding it increasingly difficult to do so.