Luton Council conducted the statutory street count that forms the basis of annual government statistics on rough sleeping in England in November 2019. Together with our partners, we estimated 43 people were sleeping rough on the night the count was conducted, and there was sufficient evidence to verify the 43.
Twenty-seven people were actually counted, or seen rough sleeping on the night. This year’s count represents a further drop from last year’s figure of 47.
In 2018/19, we saw a 46 per cent decrease from the 87 verified during the annual rough sleeping estimate in November 2017 - the highest number ever recorded in the town.
During the 12 months between November 2018 and October 2019, the rough sleeping partners supported 234 individuals off the street and into accommodation.
Luton perpetually faces a high turnover of people new to rough sleeping, many of whom come from outside of town. This is one reason for the slower decrease seen this year.
Our new assessment centre opened just three months before the count took place. The Homeless Assessment and Rapid Rehousing Pathway (HARRP), delivered by Keystage Housing, opened in August 2019. In the first three months of operation leading up to the annual estimate, 43 individuals were moved off the street.
Between August 2019 and January 2020 this increased to 84 individuals. We expect to see an even more pronounced impact from new provisions in next year’s figure.
These estimates are a snapshot assessment, based on our own evidence and a range of partner agencies, about the number of people sleeping rough in our authority area on a particular night.
It will not record everyone in the area with a history of rough sleeping and it is not intended to be a complete picture of current rough sleepers in Luton. However, it can be an effective means of gauging the scale of the problem and monitoring progress over time.
Street counts or estimates follow a methodology developed by Homeless Link and approved by the Ministry of Housing Community and Local Government Annual estimates, and are carried out each November.
The November count confirmed the majority of people sleeping rough in Luton are doing so in and around the town centre, and that most individuals to have multiple support needs including mental and physical health, family breakdown and alcohol and/or drug dependency which can prevent them from accessing the support on offer.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for Housing, said: “Street counts do give us valuable information about the overall trend and changing needs of those sleeping rough here. We were pleased to see the overall count number continue to decrease from the previous November.
“There has been a huge amount of work across the town to keep things moving in the right direction and make a real difference to people’s lives.
“In December, we launched our Big Change initiative together with the Luton Homeless Partnership. In just two months, almost £1000 has been raised by residents and businesses for our frontline services to buy the small items that make a big difference in helping people build a life away from the street.
“In addition to the existing provision we have in place with our partners at NOAH and Signposts and the outreach teams working across the town, we have also been able to open a new Homeless Assessment and Rapid Rehousing Pathway (HARRP), delivered by Keystage Housing. This opened in August and, in just five months, has moved 84 people off the street.
“During the same period, Signposts accommodated 62 individuals who were leaving rough sleeping. Without the work of these services and many others, the estimates and counts would be much higher.
“We would also like to remind anyone who is concerned about someone sleeping rough that our severe weather winter night shelter opens via NOAH at 141 Park Street when the temperature is zero or below and is free to anyone who needs access.
“We also offer advice on other ways you can help
– from donating to our Alternative Giving scheme, to the day centres open and offering help right now.”
We are also asking for your help to help us offer the right help to anyone who needs it. If you see someone, or are aware of someone who says they are going to sleep rough, please call 0300 500 0914 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk
. This national charity will get in touch with the local Outreach Team on your behalf. Outreach staff will respond the same or next day.