Rough Sleeping

Meeting: 
MQT on 2013-01-30
Session date: 
January 30, 2013
Reference: 
2013/0199
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What is your forecast for the number of people who will be sleeping rough at the end of 2013?

Answer

Answer for Rough Sleeping

Answer for Rough Sleeping

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Tom, thank you. We do not, I am afraid, have a forecast for the numbers. What I can say - as I have said to you I think before when you asked about this, or possibly it was to someone else - there has been a great success in combatting the entrenched rough sleepers. We are stopping people from spending more than one night out. Of course it is absolutely true that there is a significant problem caused, very largely, by people either with mental health problems or people from accession countries of the European Union (EU) who are coming on to the streets. What we are doing is trying to help them off the streets as rapidly as we can.

Tom Copley (AM): Thank you, Mr Mayor. It is precisely over this issue of entrenched rough sleeping that I wanted to question you. In November 2012's question time you told me that - and I quote - 'The No Second Night Out scheme has done a very creditable job of reducing the number of people who spend more than one night out on the streets'. However, in December 2012, in response to a written question that I submitted to you, your office published figures which show the number of people spending more than one night out on the street has increased every year since you were elected. Do you want to apologise for misleading me?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, because I think most people would accept that the key thing is what proportion -- the scale of the problem is unquestionably there and it has been growing. What we are doing is getting a large number, and a growing proportion, of those people off the streets within 24 hours. Eight out of ten rough sleepers spend just 24 hours on the street.

Tom Copley (AM): It is not true, Mr Mayor. I will have to stop you there because you are --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You can say it is not true but I would have to contradict you --

Tom Copley (AM): -- misunderstanding the No Second Night Out scheme.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I can see it repeated here twice in my brief on one page.

Tom Copley (AM): And I have the figures from your office. If I could clarify for you, Mr Mayor. Not all rough sleepers are helped by the No Second Night Out scheme. It does not help people who have already been helped and then subsequently are found to be back out on the street. It only helps a proportion of the total number of people. If you look at the percentage of rough sleepers --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Let's put it another way; the No Second Night Out scheme is contributing to our success in ensuring that eight out of ten rough sleepers spend just 24 hours on the street.

Tom Copley (AM): No, Mr Mayor, you said to me --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Compared with half four years ago.

Tom Copley (AM): You said to me you had done a very credible job of reducing the number of people who spend more than one night out on the streets --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Which is right.

Tom Copley (AM): In fact the figures show, from Broadway which are used by our own office, which were published in a written response to a question that I put in in December 2012, that the number has increased every year since you were elected so do you want to apologise for misleading me?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No, I do not because I think everybody will understand that the critical thing is what proportion of people arriving on the streets of London are you able - partly because of the efforts and energy of Rick Blakeway [Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property] and everybody involved in combatting rough sleeping, the No Second Night Out project - to help off the streets within 24 hours. Four years ago it was half the people on the streets who were helped off within 24 hours. It is now eight out of ten. That is very largely thanks to the work of the No Second Night Out scheme.

Tom Copley (AM): No, no. The number of people here, figures from your office, the percentage of rough sleepers spending more than one night out on the streets, 2011/12, 44%. Figures from your own office, Mr Mayor. I do not know where you get your figures from --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): No. You claim you have got numbers from my office --

Tom Copley (AM): You have a random number generator or pulled them out of a hat --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I have got figures hot off the press from my office this morning. I took these figures out of my office last night. These are the figures authenticated, validated and given to me by my office. I will read the whole paragraph to you --

Tom Copley (AM): I would rather you did not read the whole paragraph, Mr Mayor --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Why not?

Tom Copley (AM): Why are they giving you different figures than they are giving me?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): These figures are produced by good, honest, reputable officials of the GLA. I have no reason to dispute them. 'No one arriving on London's streets should spend a second night out. A target I have reduced. With the support of the voluntary help of the boroughs we have seen eight out of ten rough sleepers spend just 24 hours on the street' --

Tom Copley (AM): As I just said to you, Mr Mayor, the No Second Night Out scheme does not help all the people that are sleeping rough on our streets. The percentage of the total number of rough sleepers who spend more than one night on the streets is 44%. We are clearly not getting anywhere here --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): That is not true.

Tom Copley (AM): -- so I want to ask you another question, Mr Mayor, if I may. Your 2012 manifesto, which was published seven months before your self imposed deadline of ending rough sleeping by the end of 2012, claimed, 'I have secured investment and launched a range of initiatives to ensure that by the end of 2012 no one should be living on the street'. Now the figures that your office have given me show that, in reality, a little over --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I do not have any confidence in the figures that you allege come from my office because the figures I have from my office say something completely different.

Tom Copley (AM): Let me ask the question and then --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am inclined to believe the figures I have got from my office.

Tom Copley (AM): I will ask the question and then you can decide that you do not want to answer it if --

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am not going to answer. Why should I? A load of rubbish.

Tom Copley (AM): The figures your office have given me show that, in reality, a little over 2,200 more people were sleeping rough in London every year at the end of your term than they were at the beginning.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are confusing two things.

Tom Copley (AM): Let me finish, Mr Mayor.

Jenny Jones (AM): I think you are confusing two things!

Tom Copley (AM): Possibly more than two, Jenny! Why did you make that pledge seven months before the election when all the figures show that the number of people sleeping rough on the streets had increased?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Because it is our job to try to help homeless people off the streets. Actually there are people in the London Delivery Board who are working incredibly hard through the No Second Night Out initiative to try to deal with the problem, and --

Tom Copley (AM): Why did you make a pledge that you knew you would not be able to keep, Mr Mayor?

Darren Johnson (Deputy Chair): Let the Mayor answer.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The reason, as you know full well, is that there has been a significant increase in the number of people arriving particularly from other countries. 53% of rough sleepers last year were non-UK nationals. 28% came from accession countries --

Tom Copley (AM): I am aware of that, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Then you should put some weight to that point.

Tom Copley (AM): Perhaps you should make not pledges, particularly very serious pledges like this, when all the evidence shows that you will not be able to keep that pledge.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): One thing I do think we should look at it is the --

Tom Copley (AM): I will leave it there. Thank you, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): If I may finish, because it is important. It is important that we look at the impact that we can expect from the A2 accession countries - Romania and Bulgaria - where, at the moment, they will be allowed access -- and we support immigration by talented people, but I am concerned that immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, unless properly handled, will lead to an increase in rough sleeping of the kind that we have seen from the previous accession countries. It may be sensible for us to consider what deregations or improvements we can make to the current deal on accession which of course comes into force at the end of this year.