Government homelessness statistics due out next week have been slammed as ‘potentially misleading’ by the UK Statistics Authority after charities warned they were under-estimating the true scale of the homelessness epidemic.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) produces three different sets of homelessness statistics and all have shown a rising trend in the number of those without a home over the last five years. Two of these reports – statistics on how many people people have approached local councils concerned they are about to become homeless as well as figures recording the number of people sleeping rough – are released on an annual basis whilst the number of people actually accepted as homeless by Local Authorities are recorded on a quarterly basis. This needs to change according to the Statistics Authority who recommend that all local authority statistics are released quarterly in a single publication.
The authority also questions whether rough sleeping statistics are truly an accurate portrayal pointing out significant difference between the number of street homeless people estimated in counts carried out by charities and those produced by Local Authorities. Astonishingly rough sleeping figures are gained from a single annual street count managed at local level with councils able to opt out if they do not believe they have a siginificant number of rough sleepers. Front-line workers in the homelessness industry have long warned that these counts are often fixed with police sent in to clear the streets of rough sleepers before the count takes place. Sadly the UK Statistics Authority have not called for an examination of how widespred this practice is.
DCLG are now required to carry out an overhaul of rough sleeping statistics as well as provide an explanation of the methods used to collect these figures and the reasons why. Basically, until a better system can be found, then DCLG have been ordered to add a disclaimer to the statistical releases saying that these numbers are actually a load of old bollocks so don’t believe a word of them. Which no-one did anyway.
You can read the UK Statistics Authority’s asessment at: http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/assessment/current-assessments/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-statistics.html
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