The government has released the latest rough sleeper figures for England. In Brighton and Hove, as we knew, the number of people sleeping on our streets is up from 144 to 178. It means that the city, for the second year running, has the highest level of rough sleeping outside London. Here is the statement I put out to the media, and covered in today’s (26th January 2018) Brighton Argus.
These latest figures do not come as a surprise other than that they are not much worse.
This increase is due to the increasing unaffordability of private rented accommodation, the failure to build new social housing, and welfare reform.
Fortunate in Brighton and Hove we have a council that is aware of the scale of problem that works well with a number of excellent charities that prevent homelessness and help people to move off the streets.
Without these charities the situation would be much, much worse.
But the situation in Brighton and Hove is exacerbated by the inward flow of wealthier people to the city. This has an inflationary impact on house prices as does government policy such as Help to Buy and, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, so too will the cut in stamp duty for first time buyers.
Some other areas in East Sussex are in denial about the scale of the rough sleeping crisis in spite of the growing evidence that is literally on their doorsteps.
The situation will do nothing but get worse and will only get better when central government intervenes to increase the supply of truly affordable housing for rent and reverses those policies that are resulting in homelessness and rough sleeping.