Data released by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) shows that a total of 11,018 people were seen sleeping on the streets in 2020/21, a 3% increase from the previous year.
There has also been a 7% increase in the number of people sleeping rough for the first time, with that figure now rising to 7,531 – 68% of the total rough sleeping population – indicating that the difficulties during the pandemic forced people to leave their homes.
Activists warn that the increase suggests that pledges made at the start of the pandemic have “fallen” and that progress on housing people is now “in imminent danger of being lost.”
The Everyone program, introduced last March, required all councils to place rough sleepers in emergency accommodation such as hotels, and thousands of people were housed as a result.
In July, ministers said local authorities would receive funding to “prevent people hosted under the program from returning to the streets.”
But the new figures indicate that thousands of people have since returned to the streets, or have not been accommodated at all, with 2,126 people seen sleeping on the streets this year also being seen in 2019/20.
Jon Sparkes, Managing Director of Crisis, said: “There is nothing inevitable about this. Over the past year we have seen brilliant but short-lived measures that have dramatically reduced the number of people sleeping rough. “
Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link, warned that without “decisive action” much of the good work of the past 15 months could be “undone”.
“The Everyone In program is coming to an end, with the risk that many people still staying in hotels will find themselves on the streets,” he said.
“Add to that the end of the recent eviction ban, the end of the leave scheme and a huge shortage of affordable housing and it is clear that many people will struggle to stay afloat in the months to come. “
The government has been approached for comment.