The count taken later that year found 4,266 slept rough across England – down nine per cent on 2018 – while there was a further reduction of 37 per cent as 2,688 people were counted as living on the streets. However, homelessness experts warn that the figures, taken from single-night counts and estimates, tend to underestimate the scale of the issue.
And while Jenrick’s tenure in cabinet saw declining figures, there were still almost 1,000 more people on the streets in 2020 than a decade earlier when the Conservatives came into power as part of the coalition government.
The Everyone In scheme had a big impact on the recent decline. The programme saw more than 37,000 rough sleepers and vulnerable people protected in hotels and other emergency accommodation during the pandemic. Of those, an estimated 26,000 had moved into settled accommodation as of January.
Jenrick described the success of the scheme as “one of the few silver linings in the ‘dark cloud’ of Covid” at the event. He also added that rough sleeping and homelessness are “solvable issues that must be tackled”.
Solutions were among the discussions at the event with Jenrick joined by Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken as well as Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes and Centre for Social Justice’s Joe Shalam.
Aiken continued her campaign to end the Vagrancy Act – the Victorian era law that criminalises rough sleeping.
Meanwhile, Sparkes spoke of the need to prevent homelessness in the first place through Housing First, genuinely affordable homes and support for people like survivors of domestic abuse and prison leavers who are at a higher risk of homelessness.
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