SHP has called on the government to commit additional funding to address the systemic causes of homelessness, as new figures showed 4,677 people were recorded sleeping rough in England in Autumn 2018.

The latest national figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show a fall of two per cent – or 74 people - since their peak in 2017, though rises were recorded in London, the Midlands, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber.

SHP Chief Executive Liz Rutherfoord said: “After eight successive years of increases which have seen rough sleeping rocket by 165 per cent nationwide, any sign that the numbers may be beginning to level off is to be welcomed.

“But there are still almost three thousand more people sleeping on our streets than in 2010, not to mention the many tens of thousands more staying on sofas, in hostels or in temporary accommodation. Meanwhile, in London, where underfunded local authorities are struggling to meet the needs of more than a quarter of the UK’s street homeless population, rough sleeping is still on the rise.

“The Local Government Association has warned that local authorities face a funding gap of over £100m for homelessness services in 2019-20.

“After years of cuts, it’s time to put money back into vital services as part of a joined-up strategy focused on prevention and addressing the underlying causes of the crisis, so that homelessness can be tackled at a systemic level.”

She added: “There have been some welcome recent developments, such as extra funding through the government's new Rough Sleeping Strategy, but much more needs to be done.

“That means better provision not just for rough sleeping, but also a preventative investment in key areas such as mental health, and more funding for progressive approaches such as Housing First, which has been shown to help people with complex needs to break the cycle of homelessness and maintain their own tenancies.

“As well as funding services, the government should also ensure that its wider policies are supporting homelessness prevention. This includes investing in truly affordable housing, especially social housing, taking action to make private sector tenancies less precarious, and scrapping punitive benefits sanctions that are pushing people into poverty, with the risk that they will lose their tenancies.

“Homelessness can be dealt with effectively, but it will take a multi-pronged approach and serious long term political commitment if we are to turn this crisis around.”