Homeless group: Borough's rough sleeper numbers exceed official figures

Brent's council tax increase will help support vital services such as help for the homeless

Figures show in 2010 there were two rough sleepers in Barking and Dagenham compared to eight in 2020. Campaigners say the actual number is higher. - Credit: PA

Calls have been made for rough sleepers to get more support amid claims their numbers in Barking and Dagenham are higher than records show.

A Labour Party analysis has shown the rate of people bedding down on the borough's streets has risen 400 per cent since 2010.

A count in 2010 shows there were two rough sleepers in the borough compared to eight in 2020, according to government figures.

Barking MP Dame Margaret Hodge blamed the rise on work becoming more insecure and access to support made harder under the Conservative Party.

She said: "The safety net for the most vulnerable has disappeared under the Tories.


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"The government must step up and make good on its promise to end rough sleeping for good.”

Margaret Hodge official parliamentary portraits

Margaret Hodge will keep doing everything to ensure vaccine rollout is a success in Barking and Dagenham - Credit: Parliament

However, the government hailed England's figures as showing rough sleeping has fallen 43pc with 2,688 people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2020, compared to 4,677 in 2018.

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Many homeless were helped off the streets in the first wave of the pandemic through the government's Everyone In programme.

But the figures also show the number of people sleeping rough on a single night in England has risen 52pc, from 1,768 in 2010 to 2,688 in 2020.

Brenda Otto, from homeless organisation Nightingale Angels UK, said the true number of rough sleepers in Barking and Dagenham is higher than eight.

"It's quite shocking - I don't believe there are only eight rough sleepers. I couldn't put a figure on it, but there are more," she said.

Ms Otto explained more homeless people are missed in official counts because they bed down out of sight, in sheds, garages or on friends' sofas.

Her organisation currently supports 14 rough sleepers, though some are from outside the borough.

She called on the government to provide one to one support services to help people off the streets.

And she welcomed public support for the homeless. "Everyone is trying to be a good Samaritan. That shows there's still community spirit in the borough," she said.

The government has pledged £750million over the next year to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

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