Homeless People

Facts, figures and trends

Rough sleeping

National and Local Contex

The Government’s publication of the 6th Annual Statistical release on Rough Sleeping “Estimates and Counts for 2015” shows a year on year increase in numbers from 2010.

Across our Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) area, Rough Sleeper estimates in 2015 saw numbers escalate by 63% for Luton, 104% for Bedford and 107% for Milton Keynes. This compares to the increases nationally (30%) and regionally (38%).  The Rough Sleeper estimates in 2016 continue to see increases in Rough Sleepers on the 2015 levels across the STP. In 2015 Luton and Bedford were two of the ten local authorities with the largest numbers of rough sleepers.  Whilst numbers for Central Bedfordshire are lower, this is consistent with a large, predominantly rural authority with a number of small urban areas dispersed across a wide geographical area.  Delivery of services is concentrated in one larger urban area and isn’t comparable to the extent of services provided in Bedford and Luton.

Table 3: Rough Sleeper Numbers – 2012 to 2016. Source: Local Authority Verified returns Annual Rough Sleepers Estimate.
2012 19 11 25 6 61
2013 26 13 22 8 69
2014 25 18 33 14 90
2015 51 10 53 29 143
2016 59 19 76 31 185

The 7th Annual statistical release was published in January 2017 and shows that levels of rough sleeping have shown a 16% increase on numbers reported in 2016.

The increase in rough sleepers can in part be attributed to increasing levels of homelessness generally. Within Luton and Bedford there has also been an increase in inward migration including an increase in Eastern Europeans Rough Sleeping.

Data from the grant funded sub regional Street Outreach Service, which operated from January 2015 to June 2016, (“No Second Night Out”) showed that 27% of clients stayed on the street for only one night. Since then the number of rough sleepers across the sub region between the 2014 and 2016 counts has doubled. Of the 42 people within Bedford Borough which KAP’s Rough Sleeper Outreach Worker is in contact with, only one was recorded as having been rough sleeping for less than 5 days. Of the 287 people with whom NOAH connected, 78 were sleeping rough for less than 5 days. It is estimated that 25% of rough sleepers spend 5 days or fewer sleeping rough. local authorities within the STP area, with the exception of Central Beds, have seen an increase in the numbers of rough sleepers who have no recourse to public funds. 

Following the end of the “No Second Night Out” funded project, Central Bedfordshire Council funded NOAH to continue the service across it’s area. From August 2016 to February 2017 the service has worked with 38 people sleeping rough, 89% of which are male.

Resources and Meeting Gaps

Government funding to tackle rough sleeping has been made available to local authorities through a bidding process.  A joint bid from Luton, Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Council’s, lead by Bedford Borough Council, has been successful and awarded funding from April 2017.  The funding will be used to re-introduce a dedicated Rough Sleeper Street Outreach Service based on the very effective model previously operated across the Bedfordshire sub region until June 2016.  The model will be extended to work across the STP area and will be strengthened by two additional elements:

  • Crisis Intervention Workers’ to work with those with complex mental health related issues
  • Rough Sleeper Assessment Hubs’

The previous sub-regional outreach service worked with 434 referred individuals over an 18-month period. With the increase in numbers Rough Sleeping in the 2016 Rough Sleeper count, the extension into the STP area and the experience of more people accessing Homelessness Day Centres in Luton and Bedford, the new service will work with an estimated 700 over the life of the project. 

It is estimated that this intervention has the potential to save a net £1.5m across public services over the funding period identified based on assisting 600 Rough Sleepers or those at Risk of Rough Sleeping.

Based on cost estimates from Crisis[1], the cost of a successful prevention intervention for a rough sleeper is £1,426, whereas the cost of that individual being homeless for a year is £20,128.  This means a potential saving of £18,702 per Rough Sleeper or potential Rough Sleeper assisted. Central Bedfordshire Council has committed to continue the NOAH street outreach project until the contract for the new service has been awarded.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s annual lettings plan includes lettings quotas for agencies working with vulnerable households to nominate those households for a percentage of available lettings.  The annual lettings plan and use of quota nominations is reviewed annually and quotas published at the end of June each year.

Accommodation Based Support contracts, providing accommodation for a total of 51 single people, were reviewed and recommissioned through a tendering process in August 2016. Contract oversight was moved to Housing Services in November 2016 to improve referral pathways into supported housing. Performance measures and an outcomes framework is being finalised to inform further development of housing pathways. As part of this process Kilgour Court which provides a further 38 bed spaces of supported accommodation for single homeless people, was brought in-house.

The creation of  three complimentary service teams within Housing Services; Solutions, Independent Living and Intensive property Management provides the opportunity to further develop access points, rehousing pathways and flexible rehousing solutions particularly for single people under 35 restricted to single room rate housing allowance.

Rough Sleeper Estimates will continue to be carried out annually. The prevention of rough sleeping is a key objective of the Council’s (high level) Medium Term Plan. Progress on tacking rough sleeping is reported regularly to the highest level of the organisation.



[1] At what cost? An estimation of the financial costs of single homelessness in the UK, Nicholas Pleace, Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, July 2015

Last updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017