Spiralling London rough sleeping figures ‘latest evidence of homelessness emergency’


New data released by the government reveals a 32% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in the capital.

The statistics show that 1,132 people were seen sleeping rough on a single night in London in 2023 compared to 858 in 2022.

Rough sleeping has increased across England but London is the region with the largest increase.

Responding to the figures. Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, said:

“These devastating figures are the latest evidence of London’s homelessness emergency.

“Local support services are under immense pressure and the crisis is spiralling out of control.

“Tackling rough sleeping requires a range of policy measures, as well as close partnerships between different agencies and long-term funding commitments for the frontline services keeping people off the streets. The government must do more to invest in this work and turn the situation around.”

Boroughs report that a key factor driving the increase in rough sleeping is the recent increase in the number of people being evicted from Home Office accommodation after receiving decisions on their asylum applications.

While it is positive that applicants are receiving decisions, boroughs reiterate the need to ensure adequate housing arrangements are in place and that the Home Office works closely with councils to avoid refugees and asylum-seekers becoming homeless. Closer co-ordination between the government and local authorities is essential for securing appropriate housing, preventing homelessness, and ensuring those granted asylum have the best opportunity to settle in the UK.

Among its policy priorities for reducing rough sleeping, London Councils is urging the government to:

Commit to a 56-day ‘move-on period’ for refugees and asylum-seekers leaving Home Office accommodation, so local authorities have more time to assist with housing arrangements and reduce the risk of homelessness.

Expand the eligibility for Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) properties to include newly recognised refugees. The Local Authority Housing Fund is a welcome and successful scheme for Ukrainian and Afghan refugees. Boroughs are calling on DHLUC to broaden the scheme to include newly recognised refugees facing or at risk of homelessness.

Recognise asylum accommodation as supported accommodation. This would mean refugees under 35 could access private rented accommodation at the higher self-contained Local Housing Allowance rate. Currently, this group is being capped at the shared accommodation rate which is a key driver in homelessness for under 35s as it places the vast majority of private rented sector properties out of reach.

Enhance Rough Sleeping Prevention grant funding to support those who are at risk of rough sleeping, but who are not eligible for assistance under the Homelessness Reduction Act/Housing Act legislation.

Bring forward a cross-departmental strategy to reduce homelessness. Tackling homelessness must become a major priority at a national level with government departments working together – in addition to key partners such as local authorities – as effectively as possible.