Homelessness

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Chris Ruane Chris Ruane Shadow Minister (Wales)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent assessment he has made of the accuracy of (a) homelessness and (b) rough sleeping statistics.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

MHCLG publishes statistics on statutory homelessness and rough sleeping. a) From the 1 April 2018, the Homelessness Case Level Information Collection (H-CLIC) data system replaced the aggregated data return (collected using the P1E form) for all new homelessness applications. The statistics measure statutory homelessness and excludes anyone who has not approached their local authority for assistance who would otherwise be considered homeless. The data from H-CLIC provides much more detailed, case-level information on the characteristics households experiencing homelessness and associated factors.

These statistics are designated as experimental statistics as they are in the testing phase and not yet fully developed. Work continues to develop processes for handling gaps in coverage and improve data quality until the statistics are of sufficient quality to be designated as National Statistics. More detail on these issues and how these have been dealt with are covered in the Technical report published alongside the statistical release available at this link. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831153/Statutory_Homelessness_Technical_Note.pdf b) Since 2010 all local authorities in England have been required to provide a snapshot of rough sleeping using either a count or an evidence-based estimate.

We are confident these Rough Sleeping Statistics provide a pragmatic way of estimating the number of people sleeping rough across England on a single night and of assessing change over time. The data is collated by outreach workers, local charities and community groups and is independently verified by Homeless Link. Accurately counting or estimating the number of people sleeping rough is inherently difficult given the hidden nature of rough sleeping. More detail about data quality and limitations of the latest Rough Sleeping Snapshot Statistics can be found in the technical information section of the latest statistical release available at this link:.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autumn-2018

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) have previously raised concerns about the reliability of the rough sleeping snapshot statistics due to a number of areas changing their approach for measuring rough sleeping. The recently published Rough Sleeping Initiative Impact evaluation looked at this concern and found there was no evidence that areas changing from estimates to counts and vice versa was responsible for the fall in rough sleeping in areas funded by the initiative. More information is available at the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/rough-sleeping-initiative-2018-impact-evaluation

We also have a programme of work underway to improve the broader evidence base for homelessness and rough sleeping. Further information about this work is available at this link:

https://gss.civilservice.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Homelessness-and-Rough-Sleeping-research-programme.pdf

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