Rough sleeping in Enfield among outer London’s highest

Only two outer London boroughs recorded a higher number of rough sleepers last year, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Homeless person sleeping rough
credit Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Enfield had the third-highest number of rough sleepers in outer London last year, new figures show.

There were 21 people recorded as sleeping rough in the borough on one night in August last year, with only Ealing and Kingston-upon-Thames in outer London having higher numbers at that time.

The number was recorded as an estimate by Enfield Council but has now been published as part of a government data release comparing different local authority areas.

In a similar count made the previous year, there were 19 people estimated to be sleeping rough in Enfield.

The government figures show rough sleeping in England as a whole fell by 9% compared to 2020 but remained 38% higher than in 2010, when the data started being collected.

In March 2020, the government launched its ‘everyone in’ programme calling on local authorities to house people sleeping rough to protect their health and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It subsequently pledged £150million to provide 3,300 new homes for rough sleepers in an effort to stop those who were housed during the pandemic from returning to the streets.

In October 2020, Enfield Council was awarded more than £9m by the Greater London Authority to build 73 homes for former rough sleepers across three different schemes.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Enfield Council’s street homeless service has visited, housed and supported over 500 rough sleepers since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. That includes people coming directly off the streets.

“We have developed a comprehensive housing plan to support rough sleepers off the streets, including our Somewhere Safe to Stay Hub, our housing first, one housing and rough sleeper accommodation programme supported housing schemes.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of new rough sleepers on the streets of Enfield. However, as a result of the initiatives we have rolled out to end rough sleeping, we have seen a significant and consistent fall in the number of rough sleepers found bedded down any typical night, from 78 counted in November 2018 to seven in January 2022.

“Our housing plan will help to create a sustainable pathway for rough sleepers back into the wider community. It will increase the provision of supported housing for rough sleepers and connect residents with the services they need to sustain their housing.”

A recent survey of councils carried out by housing charity Shelter indicated that a lack of appropriate and affordable homes was the biggest barrier to long-term housing for people helped by the ‘everyone in’ scheme.

Osama Bhutta, director of campaigns at Shelter, warned there was a “real danger” that more people would be “faced with the streets” as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

He added: “The government pledged to end rough sleeping by 2024. It cannot possibly achieve this goal without a proper plan to tackle the root causes.

“We need a roadmap out of homelessness – one that begins with making sure everyone at risk of the streets is given a safe place to stay and ends with the building of truly affordable social homes.”