The head of a major London homelessness charity has cast doubt on the accuracy of government statistics on rough sleepers.
Although official figures published last week showed a 10 per cent rise in the number of rough sleepers in England in the past year, Thames Reach Bondway head Jeremy Swain said the total was higher still.
Swain highlighted the case of Tower Hamlets, where Thames Reach Bondway is based, and said it was “implausible” that it only had the three rough sleepers counted in the government’s figures.
“I would like a little more rigour in street counts,” said Swain. “I’m not saying they are being wilfully manipulated but I think some of the discipline around street counts has been removed.”
Tower Hamlets Council said its last street count found three rough sleepers, but a spokesperson admitted the figure might not tell the whole story because staff doing the count might not have come across people sleeping rough in locations such as stairwells.
The government denied there had been any reduction in the rigour of street counts.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said there had been no changes to guidelines on street counts and that many homeless people seen on the streets would not necessarily be sleeping rough.
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