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Rough sleeping in London

Key points

  • The number of rough sleepers found by outreach teams has more than doubled since 2007
  • A growing number of these rough sleepers are new
  • Rough sleepers from central and eastern Europe make up an increasingly large proportion, though the single biggest group are from the UK

Rough sleepers in London


What does this graph show?

The figures in the graph show the number of people each year in London that were in contact with services for rough sleepers. In 2012/13, around 6,400 people were seen sleeping rough at least once over the course of the year by street outreach teams. This is a rise of 750 people compared to the year before and almost double the level of four years earlier.

Of all the rough sleepers in 2012/13, just under half (2,900) were UK nationals and just over one quarter (1,800) were from Central or Eastern Europe. There has been a rise in the number of rough sleepers of all nationalities in the last year.

The statistics also show that almost 90% of those sleeping rough are men. The spread of ages of those sleeping rough is quite wide. Around one in eight are aged under 25, with around one quarter aged 26-35. Half of all rough sleepers are aged 36-55.

4,400 of all those seen rough sleeping in 2011-12 were in contact with outreach teams for the first time, around two-thirds of the total. But almost 2,100 had slept rough before, around 230 more than the year before.

Additional information

For the purpose of obtaining the most accurate figure, following consultation, the government has widened the definition of rough sleeping to include those people who are clearly just about to sleep rough on the night of the street count but are not yet doing so. The production of guidelines for estimates and street counts has been passed from government to the homeless charity Homeless Link, who will also take responsibility for ensuring the independent verification of counts in the future.

Homeless Link's Survey of Needs and Provisions 2010 found that:

  • Homeless day centres in London see an average of 113 people a day.
  • 32% of homelessness projects in London reported that the majority of their clients are rough sleepers.
  • The issues that London homelessness services reported ranged from services for drug users and Eastern Europeans to a lack of space or spaces being unused because of restricted referral systems. The most common answer given was funding (38%), followed by move-on accommodation and support (32%).

Data used

CHAIN, data provided by Broadway

Indicator last updated: 11 October 2013