Government figures released today by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show more people were sleeping rough on the streets of Gloucestershire in 2023 – an increase of 11% compared to 2022.

Across the six districts in Gloucestershire (Cotswold, Forest of Dean, Stroud, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, and Gloucester), an estimated 31 people were sleeping rough in 2023 compared to 28 in 2022.

As this data is obtained from a single night of the year in autumn 2023 and does not include people in hostels, shelters or sofa surfing, the true number of people who were experiencing street homelessness and hidden homelessness throughout 2023 is likely to be substantially higher.

Today’s figures are extremely worrying and evidence of how the cost-of-living crisis and lack of affordable housing have exacerbated homelessness. All regions in England saw an increase in rough sleeping and this is deeply troubling, especially at a time when homelessness services are facing dire financial situations and the UK Government is trying to pass the Criminal Justice Bill, which contains proposals that would mean people who are homeless in England and Wales could face fines or even prison time for rough sleeping.

Below you will find information on the ways that you can get involved and take action to make the government prioritise comprehensive strategies to address all types of homelessness:

Emmaus joins call to address ‘dire’ financial situation facing homelessness services

Emmaus has joined 36 other leading homelessness charities to call on the Chancellor to urgently address the dire financial situation facing homelessness services. The open letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt urges the Government to release funding in the upcoming Spring Budget to avoid a looming disaster.

Support services are shrinking while homelessness rises across the country. Meanwhile, Councils are axing services in a bid to tackle funding deficits, leaving people without vital support. In a recent poll Homeless Link conducted of 120 service providers, 66% said they’re running services that are no longer financially viable.

You can read more about this call for urgent funding here. Please share the article on your social media platforms to spread the word.

Write to your local MP or election candidates

The UK Government must prioritise comprehensive strategies to address all types of homelessness and invest in affordable housing, mental health services and support programmes. As it’s an election year, you can ask your local MP or election candidates how they will do this, and this is a question you can ask if you are canvassed too.

Take action with Crisis against the Criminal Justice Bill

The Criminal Justice Bill is a new piece of legislation being introduced by the UK Government. The Bill contains new powers for police and local authorities to enforce against ‘nuisance rough sleeping’ in England and Wales. These powers include being moved on, a fine up to £2,500 and even imprisonment. Homelessness is not a choice or something people should be criminalised for.

Crisis is running a campaign to stop the Bill and the criminalisation of people forced to sleep rough. You can take action by visiting here.