Tories welcome 2% fall in rough sleeping last year – but fail to acknowledge 165% increase since 2010

Theresa May’s Cabinet today welcomed the first fall in rough sleeping since 2010 after numbers dropped by 2 per cent, but failed to acknowledge the 165 per cent increase since 2010 when the party took the keys to number 10.

The figures, which have been described as a “2 per cent slowing down of the tsunami”, emerged last week and have been trumpeted by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to promote a £1.2 billion investment in homeless services.

He said: “Councils have used this funding to create an additional 1,750 beds and 500 rough sleeping support staff- and figures published last month show this investment is already starting to have an effect.”

But not only do the statistics Brokenshire refers to cloud the picture, they also cannot be trusted.

The 2 per cent fall last year compares to an increase of 165 per cent since 2010, and come following a change of compiling method which allows councils to play down the homelessness crisis.

Instead of making estimates provided by an array of agencies working in the field, councils now make street counts on a single night of the year.

According to Guardian analysis, more than 30 councils switched from submitting an estimate to a street count from 2017 to 2018, with some councils reporting reductions in rough sleeping of up to 85 per cent.

In Brighton and Hove, the official number for rough sleepers fell from 178 to 64 people (64 percent) in 12 months due to the single night count method, but even Brighton Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth was forced to admit the counting method was flawed.

He said: “Physically counting produces lower figures as it will always be the case that not every rough sleeper can be found on any given night. This happened in November 2018 when the count was conveniently carried out when it was snowing. It produced a figure that was under half of what the city’s rough-sleeping campaigners estimated as the real number.”

Other local authorities reporting huge decreases in homeless cases after switching their method to a street count include Redbridge, Eastbourne, Medway, Worthing, Thanet, Exeter, Basildon, Ipswich, Warwick and Gloucester.

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