English law defines somebody as homeless if they have no accommodation, or it is not reasonable for them to continue to occupy the accommodation they have (Department for Communities and Local Government, DCLG).

The DCLG is responsible for setting national policy on homelessness and leads on implementing it across government. The DCLG’s objectives for homelessness are: to prevent at-risk people from becoming homeless in the first place; to rapidly intervene with people who are already homeless; and to help people who are long-term homeless to recover from their homelessness and move into stable accommodation.

The DCLG also distributes homelessness funding to local authorities, which have a statutory duty to provide advice and assistance to all households that are homeless or are threatened with homelessness. Local authorities are also responsible for providing temporary accommodation to homeless households that are entitled to it by law. These households are typically referred to as being statutorily homeless.

According to the DCLG, 4715 people were sleeping rough in 2017, an increase of 15% from 2016. The number of homeless households in temporary accommodation has also increased, rising from fewer than 49,000 in March 2011 to 79880 in March 2018. Moreover, many homeless people do not register in official figures – they are among the ‘hidden homeless’. These people have become homeless but find a temporary solution, including staying with family or friends and living in squats or other insecure accommodation. Research by the charity Crisis indicates that about 62% of single homeless people are hidden and may not show up in official figures.

For a more detailed analysis of homelessness statistics, see this report produced by Homeless Link:

https://www.homeless.org.uk/sites/default/files/site-attachments/Homeless%20Link%20-%20analysis%20of%20rough%20sleeping%20statistics%20for%20England%202017.pdf