Mayor launches taskforce to tackle ‘shameful’ levels of rough sleeping

06 October 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new taskforce dedicated to helping tackle the ‘shameful’ rise in the number of people sleeping rough on London’s streets.

Sadiq Khan made the move as statistics* revealed that 8,096 people slept on the streets of the capital last year (at least one night), a seven per cent increase compared to the previous year.

To address this issue urgently the Mayor has set up a 'No Nights Sleeping Rough' taskforce, chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Housing James Murray, to bring together key players to help rough sleepers and prevent rough sleeping. The group will focus efforts across the capital to tackle rough sleeping - identifying what new interventions may be needed to tackle specific problems, and lobbying government for support where necessary.

The taskforce will see officials from national government working together with the five London boroughs with the highest number of rough sleepers - Westminster, Camden, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, and the City - and four leading voluntary sector organisations that play a leading role in tackling rough sleeping in the capital - Crisis, St Mungo's, Thames Reach, and Homeless Link. The taskforce will work with players across the public sector, including the Metropolitan Police, the NHS, and Transport for London.

The first meeting of the taskforce will be held at City Hall this afternoon, where its agenda will include agreeing action around future funding for supported housing and mental health provision for rough sleepers.

Sadiq Khan said: “The number of people sleeping rough is clearly unacceptable. I won’t allow this problem to be ignored. I want my new taskforce to make a real impact by ensuring government, the voluntary sector, boroughs, and others are working together effectively to help people off the streets.”

The Mayor’s recent CHAIN rough sleeping statistics (commissioned by the Greater London Authority and provided by homeless charity St Mungo’s) revealed a 15 per cent increase in those sleeping longer term on the streets (seen numerous times sleeping rough).

Rough sleepers often have multiple support needs: of those seen in 2015/16, 46 per cent had support needs around mental health, 43 per cent around alcohol and 31 per cent around drugs.

City Hall is currently making a strong case to government for London to receive a sizeable share of the £120m allocated to tackling rough sleeping in its budget for both services to prevent rough sleeping and assist those who have ended up on the streets.

Notes to editors

*CHAIN figures are commissioned and funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and managed by St Mungo’s. They represent the UK’s most detailed and comprehensive source of information about rough sleeping.CHAIN figures are published here