Map shows levels of homelessness in capital including on London Underground and at Heathrow Airport but one borough is by far the worst

A new study has revealed which London borough has the most rough sleepers. The figures also reveal that, overall, the amount of people living on the capital’s streets has increased by 21 per cent between 2022-23.

In addition, the research details that out of the more than 10,000 people in the study, a whopping 6,391 are new to homelessness. The study was conducted by the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) who have produced a map which highlights the spread of homelessness across the capital.

Westminster was found to have the highest number of rough sleepers (2,050), making up more than 20 per cent of the London total. This is more than double the amount seen in Camden (719) – the area with the second largest number. Sutton has the fewest (30).

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Screengrab of CHAIN's homelessness map
CHAIN’s map shows hotspots of homelessness in the capital
(Image: CHAIN)

Here is a map created by CHAIN, sharing a visual representation of the scale of homelessness in the capital as those areas in red and orange show the boroughs with the largest amount of rough sleepers.

CHAIN analysts wrote: “As in previous years, the borough in which the greatest number of people were seen rough sleeping was Westminster, with 2,050 people (20 per cent of the overall London total). However, this is the second-lowest annual total for Westminster since 2010-11.

“Five boroughs recorded more than 500 rough sleepers during the year. All but three of the 33 boroughs in London reported increases in the number of people seen rough sleeping in 2021/22.

“A total of 233 people were seen rough sleeping at Heathrow airport, which is counted separately from Hillingdon, due to the specific rough sleeping issues found there. During 2022/23, 142 people were recorded rough sleeping on buses, and 36 were recorded on the London Underground network.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called the figures “extremely alarming”. He said: “Since I became Mayor, City Hall services have helped more than 15,700 people off the streets, with the vast majority not seen sleeping rough again. I have also quadrupled our rough sleeping budget. Despite this progress, extraordinary financial pressures are putting the poorest Londoners at growing risk of homelessness.

“Figures show that we need much more support from central Government, and better co-operation between departments if we’re to end rough sleeping in London. I’ll continue to urge Ministers to get a grip on the cost of living crisis and restore the social security safety net which stops people becoming trapped in a cycle of homelessness.

“They must also invest in new council and genuinely affordable homes and restore London Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of market rents. Ministers should also give me the power to introduce a system of rent controls that work for London.

A homeless man begging in a London street
Levels of rough sleeping have increased in London
(Image: PA)

“With rough sleeping rising most steeply amongst people who are from outside of Europe, these figures also show the devastating impact of the Government’s immigration policies and asylum system, which leave so many at risk of destitution and homelessness.

“I am deeply concerned that the proposed Illegal Migration Bill will lead to a further increase in those seeking sanctuary in the UK who are forced to sleep rough in London. The Government should urgently review how they can prevent this legislation leading to more people becoming homeless.”

Responding to the figures Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “These figures are incredibly tragic and should serve as a wake-up call for the Government. At this rate, there’s frankly no hope that they will hit their target of ending rough sleeping by 2024. Inflation, rising rents and a lack of good, genuinely affordable homes are forcing more and more people into desperate situations. This is the sharp end of the cost of living crisis

“The number of people forced to sleep rough in London has nearly returned to the record numbers we were seeing pre-pandemic. The ‘Everyone In’ initiative, launched in 2020, offered people sleeping on the streets a safe place to stay. To see such progress undone is frustrating beyond belief.

“No one should have to endure the brutality of life on the streets – through our services we hear from people who have been threatened, attacked and abused. Rough sleeping has a profound impact upon people’s physical and mental health. What’s worse, with housing costs skyrocketing across the country, these numbers will only continue to rise unless we see action taken.

A homeless person in Mayfair in London
The highest number of homeless people were spotted in Westminster
(Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

“We need the Government to urgently invest in housing benefit, deliver the genuinely affordable homes we desperately need and fund support services to ensure we can end people’s homelessness for good. Only by addressing the root causes driving people into homelessness in the first place, can we ensure that no-one has to face life on the streets.”

The Government unveiled a plan to end rough sleeping “for good” last year. In it, ministers wrote: “We want this country to be a world leader in its approach to ending rough sleeping. This means more effective support to prevent rough sleeping happening in the first place, and a tailored offer of support where it does happen, so people can build an independent life off the streets.

“It also means the public can be assured that local authorities, working with the voluntary, faith and community sectors, have options in place to intervene swiftly when someone is sleeping rough, should they choose to accept the offer of support. It also means that local authorities and other agencies can promote a positive public realm, where everybody in the community can feel safe and prosper.

“Rough sleeping is a highly complex issue and no country in the world can claim they never have people sleeping rough on their streets. We are determined to build on our widely lauded response to the pandemic and ensure we put in place a system that means that no one should have to sleep rough, while also recognising the complexity that leads to an individual sleeping on the streets in the first place.”

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