Shelter responds to government rough sleeping statistics

Posted 31 Jan 2019

Please find below Shelter’s response to new government figures on rough sleeping, which show:

  • In Autumn 2018, 4,677 people were rough sleeping in England – a 2% decrease in a year, but a 165% increase since 2010 when the figures first started being recorded.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The combination of spiralling rents, a faulty benefits system and lack of social housing means the number of people forced to sleep rough has risen dramatically since 2010. We welcome many of the things which the government has been doing to seek to improve services for rough sleepers, and numbers do now seem to be stabilising which is a rare piece of good news, but without fundamental action to tackle the root causes of homelessness these measures will only achieve so much.

“Anyone who is forced to sleep in shop doorways or on the night bus is the end result of a broken housing system. And this figure is just the tip of the iceberg: there are many more people living precariously in emergency and temporary accommodation with their families. The rises in London, Birmingham and Manchester are a particular concern.

Notes to editors:

“While the government has embarked on some welcome initiatives on rough sleeping, you can’t solve homelessness without homes. These figures demonstrate the need for major investment in new social homes and we are calling for the government to build 3 million over the next twenty years.”

  • The data is published annually by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It is available here

  • Local authorities can either provide an estimate of rough sleeping or carry out a count. The counts take place between 1st October and 30th November each year

  • The data has been collected since 2010

  • Anyone who is worried about losing their home can get free and independent, expert advice from Shelter at or by calling the helpline on 0808 800 4444