Is Homelessness Increasing or Decreasing?

Homelessness is increasing rapidly in London due to a decrease in resources and the Cost of Living Crisis.

In a snapshot…

Although data collection isn’t perfect, as many people hide from visible spots and so, are missed, several researchers all show a pattern of large increases in rough sleeping in recent years.

Data from the Ministry of Communities Housing and Local Government shows that for every 10 people sleeping rough in 2010 there are now 12.

However, the real figure is likely to be much higher due to the ever growing hidden homeless population.

In London alone, there is estimated to be 13 times more people experiencing homelessness but who are hidden than are visibly sleeping rough – as many as 12,500 each night.

is homelessness increasing - hidden homeless

Moreover, recent data shows that rough sleeping in England has decreased over the last three years, although remaining above 2010 levels. This is clearly welcome. However, the data is uncertain.

As mentioned above, the real number of people without a home is incredibly high.

What is clear is that rough sleeping has increased enormously since 2010, and a great deal of work is needed to meet the Government’s goal of eliminating rough sleeping.

The latest data shows a strong continuing increase in rough sleeping in Westminster, where The Connection operates.

Trends in rough sleeping in Westminster

 graphic showing nearly 700 people are sleeping rough in Westminster, this is a 10% increase since last year. Trends in rough sleeping in Westminster

Data from CHAIN 2023.

Trends in healthcare demand from people sleeping rough

Healthcare data gives additional evidence on the increase in rough sleeping and its consequences.

The need for healthcare for those with no fixed address (a group that closely overlaps with rough sleepers) has risen sharply in recent years, increasing by a factor of about 3.5 since 2010/11. This is consistent with the observed rise in rough sleeping.

However healthcare needs show an even greater increase than numbers of people rough sleeping, which may indicate deteriorating health among homeless people. In addition to the harm to rough sleepers themselves this represents an increasing burden on an already overstretched NHS.

Healthcare Needs Seen in People Sleeping Rough in Westminster (2023)

Healthcare Needs Seen in People Sleeping Rough in Westminster 2023. including mental health and addiction

Data from CHAIN 2022/3


Homelessness in England and London is of growing concern.

Because of this, we are working to better understand the nature of homelessness and rough sleeping in Westminster, especially in marginalised groups.

For example, our Women’s Homelessness Census is designed to help us find people who often avoid being included in homelessness data. This way, we can improve our knowledge of homelessness to work with more people on their own terms.

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