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Sleeping Rough

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 14 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes have been made to the methodology used to (a) calculate and (b) count rough sleeping in the last 36 months; and what changes her Department is considering. (246049)

Rough sleeping counts provide an effective tool by which we can monitor and demonstrate progress in reducing rough sleeping levels. They give us an indicator of the relative extent of the problem between areas and over time. In 2007, we consulted on and strengthened the methodology by, for example, introducing verifiers.

While we will keep the local counts as a useful measure, we know that they provide a limited snapshot. They should be the start of the process not the end. In the new rough sleeping strategy “No One Left Out” published in November 2008, we set out plans to launch a new approach to help local authorities monitor progress and track people sleeping rough, ensuring that counts are not just an opportunity to identify levels of need but more importantly to do something about it. It is important that we are clear that the headline figure is the total of the counts undertaken during the year. We will no longer ask local authorities that do not count to provide an annual estimate in their annual housing statistics return.