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Boroughs support rough sleepers during festive period as homelessness rates rise

LONDON boroughs are stepping up efforts to tackle homelessness on the streets of the capital during the Christmas period.

Government statistics show homelessness is rising between 5-9% on average across the country and during April, May and June local authorities in England accepted 15,170 households as statutorily homeless.

Of these, 4,890 were in London – meaning the capital accounts for 32% of the England total and has also faced an 11% rise compared to the same period last year. 

If this pattern continues throughout the rest of the year, there will be more homeless people on the streets of London this Christmas than ever before.

Many boroughs increase their outreach work over the festive period, including Tower Hamlets, Hackney and the City of London, who have joined forces to launch No First Night Out – a project aimed at preventing single people from turning to rough sleeping. 

Dedicated housing officers work with social care teams, as well as religious organisations, medical, legal and employment services to identify those most at risk of spending a first night on the streets and offer them intensive homelessness prevention support.

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ executive member for housing, said: “Homelessness is a growing problem across London, with more and more vulnerable people becoming at risk thanks to mounting financial pressures.

“Nobody should have to face Christmas alone on the streets and I am proud of the work boroughs are doing to help some of our most vulnerable residents in extremely challenging circumstances.

“The situation is not going to improve unless councils across the country are given the tools they need to carry out their duties.  Increasing homelessness, the impact of welfare reform and cuts to local authority budgets means vital support services could be put at risk and boroughs should not be left to shoulder the burden alone.”