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The government has estimated that the number of rough sleepers has fallen by 9% in 2019 – but the reliability of the figures have come under scrutiny.

The government said there were 4,266 people sleeping rough on any night in Autumn 2019 – however separate BBC research has suggested that more than 28,000 people slept rough in 12 months.

Meanwhile homelessness charity Centrepoint said in this winter 22,000 young people approached their local council for help because they were homeless or at risk.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It’s great news to see any reduction in the numbers of people rough sleeping – fewer people sleeping on our streets means fewer people exposed to exploitation, extreme weather and the threat of violence.

“But unless we see people being offered homes, not hostels, we know from experience that people will return to the streets.

“To truly end rough sleeping, the government must recognise the intolerable pressure many in society are under with low incomes, high rents and a lack of affordable housing pushing people into homelessness.

“The reality is that this problem will persist until we build the social homes we desperately need and restore housing benefit to a level where it covers the cost of rents.”

Since 2018 the government has invested £188m in the Rough Sleeping Initiative fund.

Local authorities, charities and other organisations will use this to fund up to 6,000 bed spaces and 2,500 staff including specialist support workers such as Rough Sleeping Coordinators, navigators, and specialist health and care staff.

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