The number of people sleeping rough on the streets of England has risen for the sixth year in a row.
The latest official figures have revealed that an estimated 4,134 people were forced to sleep outside in 2016, up 16% on the previous year and more than double since 2010.
It is believed that the real numbers are far higher than those recorded by local authorities.
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A database collected by St. Mungo’s Combined Homelessness and Information Network reports more than 8,000 homeless people on the streets of London over the year of 2015-16 alone.
The majority of rough sleepers live in London, Brighton and Cornwall. A staggering 260 homelessness cases were reported in the wealthy borough of Westminster alone – a stone’s throw from Parliament.
However, in reality the problem could be even worse than the figures suggest. Guardian newspaper analysts found that, if population size is taken into account, more than 100 local authorities witnessed rates of homelessness above the national average. Using these calculations, other wealthy parts of the country to have seen high numbers of rough sleepers on their streets include Cambridge, Oxford and Canterbury.
“Behind these statistics are thousands of desperate people, sleeping in doorways, bin shelters, stations and parks – anywhere they can find to stay safe and escape the elements,” Crisis charity chief executive Jon Sparkes told the Guardian.
St Mungo’s charity chief executive Howard Sinclair echoed the sentiment, calling the figures “nothing short of a scandal.”
Most rough sleepers were found to be British nationals, with only 5 percent coming from outside the European Union. Nearly 90 percent of them were men over the age of 25.
Awful. Official data released this morning suggests Rough Sleeping in England has climbed 133% under the Tories. https://t.co/YsM1aCYkaC pic.twitter.com/EOovj765BZ
— Éoin (@LabourEoin) January 25, 2017