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Labour’s Pathetic Nonsense About Rough Sleeping Figures

The problem, generally, is staying in a home, not finding one

If you don’t like the number try counting something different:

The government has been accused of dramatically under-reporting the scale of rough sleeping following council data showing numbers almost five times higher than Whitehall estimates.

On the eve of the housing ministry’s annual snapshot of rough sleeping, which last year said that 4,677 people slept outside, the council data showed almost 25,000 people slept rough in 2019.

The figures were obtained directly from councils using the Freedom of Information Act. They relate to people sleeping rough at least once during the year. The government uses a different method, taking a snapshot count on one night.

On Wednesday the Labour party called for the UK Statistics Authority to launch an investigation into the accuracy of government data, which it said were “seriously misleading”.

The government’s snapshot for 2018 shows that there were 45 rough sleepers in Oxford. But over the whole of 2019 the local council said 430 people were recorded as sleeping rough at least once, according to the data gathered by the BBC. In Manchester the government’s figure was 123, while the council’s total was 679.

If the number of rough sleepers looks too low to motivate the masses then cook up a new method of counting so as to be able to expropriate the bourgeoisie.

At which point why not consider which is actually the correct number to be using?

Start with the idea that we would like to solve rough sleeping. Sure, there are some who actually prefer it – no, really, nowt so queer as folk out there. It’s also true that of long term rough sleepers near all suffer from one or more of a serious addiction to either drugs or booze or have some serious mental health problems. None of these are things dealt with nor solved by the provision of a free flat – not even a free house. A reversal on that Care in the Community idea might work better.

But OK, let’s move on, we still would like to solve this problem. We’re a rich place, people shouldn’t have to sleep outside if they don’t want to. How big is the problem?

That is, let’s not commit Worstall’s Fallacy and let’s measure the problem that still has to be dealt with, not the one we first started with.

The one we started with might be that estimate we get from Shelter, that there are 300,000 homeless. That is, people without a secure tenancy or a house of their own. Assuming the 300k is still their claim and that it’s not moved to umptyeleben.

OK. So we’re already solving 90% of the problem, even at that expanded definition of sleeping rough of 25,000 people in a year.

Except, obviously enough, we’re solving more than that. Because of that 25,000 only – as far as we can guess at least – only some 5,000 are doing that regularly. That is, we’ve some sort of system, however charitable, non-governmental and just plain peeps being good folks it is, which scoops up people sleeping rough and sorts them out with a roof over their heads.

Except, obviously, that hardcore with the booze, drugs and I’m a violent nutter me problems.

So, what’s the number that’s useful for decision making? It’s clearly not the umptyeleben at risk because we’re already dealing with most of that risk. It’s also not the 25,000 as we’re dealing with a goodly portion of that too. It’s the 5,000, isn’t it? That’s the part of the problem not yet solved.

So, what’s the useful number of homeless to be considering when we try to craft policy? 5,000.

Anything else is politics and there’s not all that much of a useful relationship between that professional whoredom and problem solving now, is there?

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4 years ago

Studying the numbers it is apparent that the balance is likely between a large number (c 20,000) of short term rough sleepers who are helped quickly by the charities and state organisations, and about 4,500 very long term rough sleepers who are not amenable to such support.
As you say, issues of addiction etc. causing rejection of current available support.
Meanwhile very effective care making those short term rough sleepers as short term as possible.

4 years ago
Reply to  swannypol

Actually the long-term rough sleepers are even fewer than that as any given night should include about 1% of the occasional rough sleepers who quickly decides it’s not much fun and look for somewhere to sleep indoors.

4 years ago

Run the numbers for 80 years ( life expectancy roughly ) then that’s 130 million person nights of rough sleeping. So in a population of 65 million, we are averaging 2 nights a lifetime sleeping rough if spread equally over the people living here.
I’ve done it 4 times, and had a cracking life. Who’s bringing the averages down – women imv.

4 years ago

The absurdity of this is that the Left should want to get he numbers right. What’s the point of spending resources to solve a problem of 300,000 when there’s only 5,000? It just wastes resources that could be spent on the NHS or whatever.

4 years ago
Reply to  Phoenix44

Sir, it is not a “waste” to stampede votes to put more of your resources at my disposal to hire my coat-holders to solve this pressing social problem! The problems at the NHS, we can solve next.

4 years ago

Arranging to have a roof over one’s head is costly, time-consuming, and requires planning and a fixed view of one’s future. Apart from resource/sanity/substance problems, some individuals elect not to make this arrangement and just improvise from night to night. Programs to shield these people from the consequences of their own decisions, like clean needle exchanges and tax-paid abortions, are programs to let one misbehave safely.

The true numbers are small enough that charity could once again handle them. But charities eventually insist that the “client” get his act together.

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