Rough sleeper numbers revealed

Around seventeen hundred people sleep rough in England on any given night, according to a new survey of councils.

An estimated 43 people spend each night on the streets in Hertfordshire.  The figure's 20 for Bedfordshire, 12 for Northamptonshire and 6 for Milton Keynes.

For the first time, councils across England were asked to either count or estimate the number of people sleeping rough in their area.  The England-wide estimate of 1,768 people sleeping rough each night is a lot higher than previous estimates, which put the figure at around 440.

Homeless charity Crisis have told Heart they think the problem could be about to get worse, because of the current state of the UK economy.

Duncan Shrubsole from the charity said: "We know there are more people in need and we're very concerned that as cuts start to bite - cuts to housing benefit, and cuts to local services - that this will have a real impact, causing more people to become homeless and at worst, end up rough sleeping."

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "For too long a supposedly national figure of rough sleepers hasn't reflected the reality on our streets.

"Councils and local charities know their areas best and that's why I am putting them centre stage on assessing the true scale of the problem they face locally.  By having these more accurate numbers and a better national picture of the problem - we can start to help the homeless much more effectively."