Tower Hamlets bucks national trend for rough sleepers

The number of people sleeping rough in Tower Hamlets has decreased government figures revealed today.

Nine people were sleeping rough in the borough at the time of the survey in August 2011, two people less than the year before.

But the number of people sleeping on the streets in London was up 6.95 per cent from 415 in August 2010 to 446 in August 2011.

The national average of people sleeping rough rose markedly from 1,768 to 2,181, a 23 per cent rise, according to the report by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “This rise in the number of people facing the horrors of rough sleeping is truly worrying and must be a wake-up call.

“Our very real fear is this is just the tip of the iceberg and the worst is yet to come.”

Independent research for Crisis last year by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York predicted that homelessness was set to increase from 2010.

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Mr Morphy said: “The research highlighted the reasons for the rise in homelessness as the continuing impact of the economic downturn with rising unemployment and soaring demand for limited affordable housing, and government policy to cut benefits and services, particularly housing benefit.”

Tower Hamlets council set out a six year agenda in 2008 targeting the benefit trap of homelessness.

The government recently allocated �18.5 million pounds to local authorities to deal with homelessness in their areas.

But Crisis is campaigning for a change in the law to oblige councils to help anyone who approaches them needing shelter by providing housing benefit.

Mr Morphy added: “The Government itself is adding to the problem through its cuts to housing benefit up and down the country.”