More people are sleeping rough across the West Midlands, according to the latest government figures.
The numbers released on Thursday for last autumn record a total of 295 in the region: two percent up on the previous year.
The figures followed the trend across the whole of England, which recorded a total of 4,751 rough sleepers, a 15-percent increase.
But homelessness campaigners at the charity Crisis, say the real number is much higher.
Their research suggests that there are as many as 8,000 rough sleepers across England.
And the charity Shelter said welfare cuts were exacerbating the homelessness crisis.
Chief executive Polly Neate called on the government to “build a new generation of genuinely affordable homes to rent, as well as ensuring housing benefit is fit for purpose in the short-term.”
Rough Sleeping: England
Rough sleeping: West Midlands
The West Midlands as a whole may have shown a decrease in rough sleepers, but unfortunately, this statistic isn’t applicable to Birmingham.
The statistics released today show a 4% decrease in rough sleeping in the @WestMids_CA area against a national increase. Even one rough sleeper is one too many. However, it points towards the success of our local authorities and third sector and the value of collaboration.
— Andy Street (@andy4wm) January 25, 2018
Barrie Hodge, head of fundraising at St Basil’s homeless charity said:
“Sadly there is a slight rise in rough sleeping in Birmingham. There is an increase of two people or 3% from 2016’s figure of 55. The national average of rough sleepers per 1,000 households is 0.2%, Birmingham is 0.13% and the West Midlands is 0.12%. One is one too many and we are saddened that the number has gone up.
Uploaded by Sarah McGee on 2018-01-25.
Birmingham City Council announced their 2018/19 budget this week. They plan to cut funding to certain homeless services, including financial investment for the Young Persons homeless hub; they also plan to reduce the expenditure on the substance misuse homeless service.
When questioned about the council’s decision to cut funding in these areas, Barrie Hodge said:
“We understand that the council have difficult decisions to make and we enjoy a great working relationship with them. We will be working closer than ever as we move forward to make sure that the impact of any proposed cuts is minimal.”