18th January 2017
By Peter Tremayne
Figures released by Cornwall Council show a steady decline in the amount spent on dealing with homelessness and rough sleepers over the past five years.
The number of places in shelters or hostels has dropped by nearly a quarter since 2012. The council’s budget for tackling homelessness has fallen by more than a fifth.
The disclosure adds context to central government statistics showing that Cornwall is one of the worst places in Britain for rough sleeping – fifth in a national “league of shame” behind London, Bristol, Brighton and Manchester.
Councils have no statutory responsibility to find accommodation for all homeless people. Those who seek help might find themselves sleeping rough, even if the council accepts that they are homeless.
Government figures show that in Cornwall in 2015, there were 65 rough sleepers. This was 62% up on the previous year. About 90% of rough sleepers are young men. The single most common reason given for homelessness is the breakdown of a relationship, either with parents or a partner. Cornwall’s high house prices, lower wages and a lack of permanent jobs have also been blamed for the number of rough sleepers.
The council figures, released under Freedom of Information laws, suggest a direct relationship between budget cuts and rough sleeping.
Cornwall Council's answers about budget cuts. Answer 3 relates to the number of places in hostels.
The issue has been highlighted in recent weeks after a group of rough sleepers pitched tents outside the National Westminster bank in Truro. The group was last heard of living in a car park.