Support for count of rough sleepers

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 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 to be very low in some places, such as Brighton,
well known for its high number of rough sleepers.

Kensington and Chelsea Council’s housing and
social services policy development manager, Mark Baigent, 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

Full report of the Have Your Say debate at

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