Charity challenges rough sleepers count

A homelessness charity has produced evidence
to cast doubt on the official government figures for people
sleeping rough.

A count in Leeds last week by the Simon
Community found five times more rough sleepers than the
government’s rough sleepers unit (RSU) counted in November.

The charity’s workers discovered 40 people
sleeping outside. This contrasts sharply with a Leeds Council count
on behalf of the RSU last year that produced a total of only

Two local government professionals involved in
the official counts, who responded to Community Care‘s
online discussion forum Have Your Say, supported Casey’s assertion
by vouching for the validity of the official counts in London and
York (News, 24 January, page 14).

But homelessness campaigners have disputed the
figures, especially in Brighton and Birmingham where the official
totals were only six and two people respectively.

Jon Davis, project co-ordinator of the Simon
Community in Leeds, said the charity used the same criteria as the
RSU to determine whether a person was genuinely living on the

“The Simon Community carried out the count to
provide accurate information about the extent of the problem of
rough sleeping. The figures show that more needs to be done to
alleviate the situation,” he said.

But a spokesperson for the RSU said the count
in Leeds was done in conjunction with Shelter and the figure has
remained at a “steady eight”.

“We would like to know more about the
methodology the Simon Community used for their count,” she

A Leeds Council spokesperson said: “We feel
the numbers quoted are higher than we would have expected, and may
not reflect the situation in Leeds.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.