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Conservative approach to tackling homelessness is not good enough

February 27, 2020 6:57 PM
Originally published by Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Earlier today, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran slammed the Conservatives for "failing the most vulnerable", as analysis of new rough sleeping statistics shows that the Government is significantly off track on its target of eliminating rough sleeping by 2024. Layla Moran

The Conservatives announced the revised target, which was previously 2027, after the election in December.

The latest Rough sleeping snapshot, published today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, shows that there were an estimated 4,266 rough sleepers in England on any given night in Autumn 2019, a reduction of just 411 people (8.8%) on 2018's figure. The figures are still a massive 141% up on 2010.

According to Government figures, the South-East has some 900 rough sleepers on a typical night, the biggest number outside London.

However, according to a recent Guardian report, charities who work every day dealing with the issue of rough sleeping are claiming that the Government figures are hiding the real scale of the crisis. Their own data suggest a significant increase in the amount of vulnerable homeless people seeking help.

A high number of councils do not even go outside to perform a count of rough sleepers. Others, such as Canterbury City Council, are forcing people off the city's streets. They have been slapping council notices on rough sleepers ordering them to pack up and move within 24 hours. Otherwise, they will face a Court order resulting in their belongings being confiscated and destroyed. Ida with sleeping bags

Ida Linfield, Lib Dem County Councillor for Canterbury City South has spoken out against this appalling behaviour by the City Council:

"The Conservatives are desperate to reduce the numbers of homeless people. However, rather than trying to understand their problems and dealing with them compassionately, they appear to be booting them out of town. This is totally unacceptable."

Layla Moran said:

"These figures underline the Tories' failure when it comes to rough sleeping and homelessness. They are letting down some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The Conservatives must implement a more compassionate and holistic approach, if they are to get any closer to their goal. That starts with scrapping the Vagrancy Act, a Dickensian law that criminalises rough sleeping in England and Wales. The answer to ending rough sleeping is not to arrest those doing it."


  1. The Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2019, published today by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, is here.
  2. The latest Government announcement on homelessness, which includes the new 2024 target, is here.
  3. The figure of 780 fewer rough sleepers per year to reach zero rough sleepers by 2024 is based on analysis by the House of Commons Library, that shows there was a reduction of just 74 (2%) rough sleepers between 2017 and 2018, which would have meant a reduction of 520 rough sleepers per year for the Government's old 2027 target. These figures are reached by taking the 2018 figure for rough sleepers in England, 4,677, and dividing it by the years remaining since 2018 until the elimination target.
  4. The Guardian - Data showing 9% fall in England rough sleeping 'not fit for purpose': theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/27/questions-raised-as-england-rough-sleeping-figures-show-9-fall