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Number of rough sleepers seen in Redbridge nearly doubles in four years, figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 October 2018

Joanne. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar

Joanne. Photo: Aaron Walawalkar

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The number of people seen sleeping rough in the borough each year has almost doubled since April 2014, according to the latest figures.

Figures from the Greater London Authority (GLA) show that the number of rough sleepers seen in Redbridge has increased from 121 in the year to April 2015 to 239 in the year to April 2018.

By this measure, Redbridge has the ninth highest number of rough sleepers in London.

But a Redbridge Council spokeswoman said that this figure does not give an accurate picture of the actual number of rough sleepers in Redbridge on each night.

This figure is confirmed at 65 according to a snapshot count carried out in November 2017 and verified by charity Homeless Link.

The council did however reveal that another snapshot count is imminent.

A council spokeswoman said: “The data referred to by the GLA is a measure of flow onto the streets and is a cumulative figure measuring people sleeping rough at different points of time over a whole year, including those who may be on the streets for a very short period and move on, and for example those who ordinarily sleep out in other boroughs but have been seen in Redbridge.

“There has been an increase in flow onto the streets, as well as the overall figure for the number sleeping out each night.

“This is in common with a number of outer London boroughs as an issue previously focused in the centre has spread to other parts of the city.”

The data from the GLA is derived from a multi-agency database known as the Chain, the Combined Homelessness and Information Network, managed by homelessness charity St Mungo’s.

People are counted as having been seen rough sleeping if they have been encountered by a commissioned outreach worker while bedded down on the street, or in other open spaces or locations not designed for habitation, such as doorways, stairwells, parks or derelict buildings.

On Wednesday (October 10), Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley called for more funding to address homelessness.

He said: “We need the government to urgently take drastic action and join the Mayor in trying to bring this awful injustice to an end.

“The prime minister tells us austerity has had its time.

“I want to see her warm words followed with action to reverse the government’s ruthless cuts to public services.

Mr Copley highlighted that, according to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Rough Sleeping Plan, £574m in additional funding is needed to end rough sleeping in the capital.

But Redbridge’s opposition leader, Cllr Linda Huggett, slammed the GLA figures and praised the efforts of the Conservative government in addressing homelessness.

She said: “We are investing over £1.2billion in tackling this issue. In the past year the government have provided Redbridge with over £5.5 million dedicated funding from the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant.

“This is yet another example of the Labour Party playing political football with the most vulnerable in our society.”

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