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Homelessness: Rough sleeping five times higher than official figure

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More than 28,000 people in the UK were recorded sleeping rough in 12 months, research by the BBC has suggested.

In England five times as many rough sleepers were seen by councils in the year than reported in official figures, which are a one-night snapshot.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey has called for an investigation into the government’s published statistics, calling them “misleading”.

The government said it was providing £500m this year to tackle homelessness.

It said it believed the official snapshot was a “good estimate” of rough sleeping “on a given night.”

New official figures will be released on Thursday but the data for 2018 showed 4,677 people slept rough in England on the one night the snapshot survey was taken, down 2% on the year before but 165% up on 2010.

However council responses to the BBC showed nearly 25,000 people were recorded sleeping rough at least once in England during the latest year on record.

The BBC asked councils for the number of individuals amid concerns raised last year that the official one-night snapshot did not give the full picture.

Mr Healey said he had written to the UK Statistics Authority to ask them to investigate the accuracy of the government’s statistics.

He said: “These figures expose the shameful scale of rough sleeping on our country’s streets.

“They also confirm that the government’s own published statistics are seriously misleading and an unreliable undercount of the number of people sleeping rough.”

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