Leading youth homelessness charity Centrepoint has warned ministers the country is at the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity was responding to the latest CHAIN report, released today, which provides information about people seen rough sleeping by outreach teams in London from April to June this year.
Recent research by Centrepoint also saw the number of calls to its Helpline from under 25s sleeping rough more than double since the beginning of lockdown, and that more than three quarters (78%) of English councils had seen increases in homelessness in their area.
The report covers the period when the government’s Everyone In initiative was active, meaning a significant amount of those found sleeping rough were able to move into emergency accommodation such as hotels (More information can be found in the Notes to Editors below). Everyone In has now ended and it is not clear if those newly sleeping rough will benefit from similar levels of support.
Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, said:
“These figures are a shocking increase in the number of people forced to sleep rough and it is only through the determined efforts of charities, councils and central government that catastrophe was avoided in recent months.
“That said, we should not be congratulating ourselves just yet. We are at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the economic fallout of coronavirus and Centrepoint’s research has shown local authorities are bracing themselves for further increases in homelessness as a result.
“It’s also hugely worrying to see such a steep increase in the number of young people left with no option but to sleep rough and, with government policy focussing increasingly on entrenched rough sleepers, it’s vital more specialist support is made available for under 25s.
“At the beginning of the pandemic the government showed what can be done when there is the political will required to end rough sleeping. Those early initiatives averted a human tragedy but, to prevent one unfolding on the streets of our towns and cities in the coming months, ministers must rediscover that ambition to ensure charities and councils can support those facing homelessness.”