Official homeless figures for Preston reveal shock
Fewer people are sleeping on the streets of Preston amid a fall in rough sleeping nationally.
Charities have cautiously welcomed the news that the number of people bedding down outside across England has fallen for the second consecutive year, but warned urgent social housing investment is needed to heal the "gaping wound" of homelessness across the country.
Data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveals 14 people was estimated to be sleeping on the streets in Preston during a spot check on one night last autumn.
That's down from 23 recorded in 2018, but it still represents an increase of 367 per cent from 2010 when the figures were first introduced.
The latest snapshot comes after Boris Johnson announced £236m in additional funding to provide "move on" accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers.
The Prime Minister has also appointed former homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey to carry out a review into the causes of the problem.
Local authorities across England estimated there were 4,266 people sleeping rough on the same night last autumn.
This was a nine per cent decrease from the previous year when 4,677 rough sleepers were counted, however, the total is still 2,498 higher than in 2010 – an increase of 141 per cent.
Homelessness charity St Mungo's said the figures are "simply not good enough" and called on the Government to invest an extra £1bn a year in services for the homeless, while housing charity Shelter says rough sleeping is just "the tip of the iceberg" of homelessness in the UK.
Polly Neate, Shelter chief executive, said: “It’s good news if fewer people are facing the trauma of sleeping on the streets. But the number of people sleeping rough remains well over double what it was in 2010.
“The Prime Minister rightly wants to end rough sleeping before the end of the parliament, but unless his government tackles the drought of genuinely affordable homes, homelessness isn’t going anywhere.
“You can’t put a plaster on a gaping wound. Serious investment in social housing is what’s needed. The upcoming budget is the perfect opportunity to champion a new generation of social homes and increase housing benefit, so it covers the basic cost of private rents.”
Of those who had their age recorded, all were 26 or over.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said: “It’s great news to see any reduction in the numbers of people rough sleeping – fewer people sleeping on our streets means fewer people exposed to exploitation, extreme weather and the threat of violence.
"But unless we see people being offered homes, not hostels, we know from experience that people will return to the streets.
“To truly end rough sleeping, the Government must recognise the intolerable pressure many in society are under with low incomes, high rents and a lack of affordable housing pushing people into homelessness.
"The reality is that this problem will persist until we build the social homes we desperately need and restore housing benefit to a level where it covers the cost of rents.”