Fact Check: has the number of rough sleepers gone down?

The Conversation explains…

We’ve got to also help those people who are sleeping rough and their numbers are down under this government.

David Cameron, prime minister, in answer to question from a member of the audience on BBC Newsbeat.

Street homelessness has remained a policy priority under the coalition government, but there has not been a reduction in the number of people sleeping rough as David Cameron claimed. On the contrary, official figures indicate that rough sleeping has increased by 55% in England since the current coalition came into power.

Despite requesting clarification from The Conservative party, The Conversation has not managed to establish what time period or geographical area Cameron is referring to. But even with clearly defined parameters his claim would be hard to defend, as available figures indicate that national rough sleeper numbers have risen year-on-year since 2010.

Rough sleeper numbers are difficult to calculate accurately given the often episodic, transient and hidden nature of street homelessness. Official rough sleeper statistics published by central government are based on local authority counts and estimates on a single night. They are mere snapshots and significantly underestimate the true numbers of individuals affected. Imperfect as they are, these figures are nevertheless useful for gauging trends over time.

As the graph below shows, the latest official figures indicate that rough sleeper numbers increased very rapidly (rising by 23%) in England between 2010 and 2011. The pace of increase then slowed in 2012 and 2013 (to 6% and 5% respectively).

The number of rough sleepers then rose more quickly once again, increasing by 14% between 2013 and 2014. The overall increase in rough sleeping has been particularly dramatic in London, where numbers have risen by 79% since 2010.

Rough sleeping counts and estimates by London and Rest of England

Read the story at The Conversation.com

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