Rough sleeper counts were valid, professionals claim

The government’s controversial count of rough sleepers has been
supported by two local government professionals involved in the
process, who responded to Community Care’s Have your say
online discussion forum.

Louise Casey, head of the rough sleepers unit, was heavily
criticised recently after claiming the number of people on the
streets had been cut by more than 70 per cent.

The count was questioned after the revised number appeared
incredibly low in some places, such as Brighton, well known for its
high number of rough sleepers.

Mark Baigent, Kensington and Chelsea council’s housing and
social services policy development manager, who was involved in the
central London count in December, confirmed the numbers were
“significantly lower” than previously.

But he added: ” I don’t think manipulation of the figures would
account for the visible changes I saw, although I am concerned that
not all the moves inside will last permanently.”

Lesley Healey, York council’s head of advice and housing
assessments, admitted the council did feel under pressure to find
no rough sleepers.

“But actually when it came to the count, the RSU representative
was keen to be accurate and to find anybody who was sleeping
rough,” she said. “In York at least, the RSU funding has made a
huge difference to what we can do for rough sleepers, including
their funding of a night hostel to add to our existing hostel.”

To read a full report of the Have your say debate
click here




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