Rough sleeping in London rockets 37% in a year

Newly published Government figures show a 37% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in London last Autumn. The statistics from the Department for Communities and Local Government found that between the 1st September and 30th November, 742 Londoners were estimated to have been sleeping rough, up 37% from 543 between the same dates in 2013. The increase means that London’s rough sleepers accounted for 27% of the total figure for England last Autumn.

The figures are further proof that the Mayor of London needs to do more to help people who are forced to sleep rough. The Mayor had previously pledged to end rough sleeping by 2012 but since then, according to research funded by the GLA, the number of people sleeping rough in London has risen every single year with 6,508 people estimated to be sleeping rough in 2013/14. This means that 3,036 more people slept rough in London last year than in the year Boris was elected Mayor.

Rough sleeping in Westminster has also risen significantly during Boris Johnson’s time as Mayor.  In 2008/09 1612 of people were sleeping rough in Westminster. By 2013/14, this number had risen to 2197; with an additional 585 people on Westminster’s streets.

In 2009 Boris Johnson made a promise that he would end rough sleeping in the capital by the Olympics. Yet since he made that pledge the number of people having to sleep rough has tragically gone up each and every year. It is both tragic and shocking that there are now 585 more people sleeping on Westminster’s streets.

Every person living on our streets represents both a personal tragedy and a failure of the system which is meant to protect them. Delivering on his pledge to tackle rough sleeping could have been a crowning achievement for the Mayor; instead it is a chronic failure on his part.

There is no doubt that the Government’s deep cuts to Council budgets have made things harder for people sleeping rough with support services facing significant cutbacks. But with the number of people sleeping rough on our streets increasing, Boris should be doing more to meet his promises to them.

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