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The Greater London Authority’s latest Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) report was published today, showing that between April 2023 and March 2024, outreach teams noticed 11,993 people sleeping rough in London.

This is the highest number CHAIN has ever recorded since it began over a decade ago, representing a 19% increase on the previous year, and a 44% increase on 2 years ago. Since 2013, the number of rough sleepers seen by London outreach teams has increased by more than 84%.

Jo Carter, CEO at Glass Door Homeless Charity, had the following to say:

“The latest annual CHAIN Figures released today show the devastating effect of a government who continues to ignore homelessness - this simply isn’t good enough!

All kinds of homelessness, including rough sleeping, are on the rise, and hundreds of thousands of people in this country do not have a safe and secure place to call home.

Month after month we are seeing more women turn to us for support, young Londoners in desperate need for housing and the sharpest increase in first-time rough sleepers turning to us for emergency shelter this past winter.

Rising homelessness is not inevitable, but without drastic action things will continue to get worse.

It is vital that our next government, and politicians of all parties, address the systemic issues which fuel the continued rise in homelessness and make ending homelessness a priority.”

With just one week to go until the UK’s general election, homelessness must be front-and-centre of our political conversation. Based on our front-line experience and the data that we collect, we have highlighted three key areas where we think the next government should place its focus.

Tackling homelessness among under-35s

We have seen a steady increase in people under the age of 35 coming to us for support. One of the key steps that the next government can take to help this group would be to abolish the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) of Local Housing Allowance. The SAR means that most under-35s get less money in housing benefits than other groups, making it especially difficult for them to find any accommodation that they can afford.

Reforming the Private Rented Sector

Private renters in the UK have very little security and pay huge amounts of money for accommodation that is often low quality. The next government can have an immediate positive impact on the rental market and slow down the tide of people being pushed into homelessness by introducing robust reforms to ban no-fault evictions and crack down on illegal evictions.

Making homelessness policies gender-informed

Women make up a significantly higher proportion of people experiencing homelessness than most traditional counts suggest, and all too often the unique ways that they experience homelessness are not taken into account when policies are crafted. The next government should broaden the definition of rough sleeping and put more resources into improving our understanding of women’s experiences.