Mayor under fire as rough sleepers in London double in five years
The number of people sleeping rough in London has surged by 13 per cent in a year, more than doubling the total since Boris Johnson became Mayor.
The official annual count recorded 6,437 in 2012-13, including 4,353 sleeping on the streets for the first time. Almost half were British citizens but more than 600 were from Poland and nearly 500 from Romania.
Experts said the increasing numbers were a consequence of housing benefit cuts, soaring rents and the closure of a dozen hostels and day centres — leaving 784 fewer emergency beds in the capital.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the Crisis charity for the homeless, said: “The Mayor pledged to eliminate rough sleeping in London by 2012.
Instead today we see that the number of people sleeping on the capital’s streets — in absolute destitution in one of the world’s richest cities — has more than doubled on Boris Johnson’s watch.”
Ms Morphy called on the Mayor to demand that the Government reverses the housing benefit cuts which she blames for the rise in homelessness and rough sleeping. “Continuing failure to do so will lead to more of his citizens facing the horrors of life on the streets,” she said.
There were 3,017 rough sleepers in 2007-8 — the period immediately before Mr Johnson became Mayor.
However, today’s report from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network shows that he has had some success in preventing people spending a second night sleeping rough. Some 75 per cent of people new to the streets did not spend a second night sleeping there — up from 70 per cent the previous year and 62 per cent the one before.