BRIGHTON and Hove has experienced the biggest increase in the number of rough sleepers anywhere in the country in the past year, according to new Government figures.

The rise from 78 rough sleepers to 144 is greater than any other council, leaving the city with the second highest homeless population in the country after Westminster.

The increase was more than five times the national rise of 16 per cent and represents a ten-fold increase since 2010.

Only 11 councils out of 326 recorded higher percentage increases, all with considerably smaller homeless populations, while none of the other top ten homeless areas had more than a 53 per cent increase.

The drastic rise is a serious blow to Labour’s manifesto pledge to reduce the levels of rough sleeping in the city and ambitions to end street homelessness by 2020.

Across Sussex there are 280 rough sleepers, an increase of 32 per cent in 12 months and almost treble 2010 figures.

Brighton Housing Trust’s Andy Winter said rough sleepers had not increased but they had become more visible, sleeping in shop doorways rather than parks or car parks.

Mr Winter believes that legal highs were responsible for bringing more rough sleepers into prominent locations as they no longer had to hide their drug use.

He warned there could be more flashpoints between rough sleepers and shop owners as the issue persisted.

He said: “The housing situation is going to get worse because there is nothing by way of policy coming out from the Government. It will continue to get worse until they say we are going to intervene in markets like Brighton and Hove.

“The number of street homeless probably will go up but I wouldn’t like to put a figure on it.

“It was always an aspiration to end street homelessness by 2020, I thought it was possible but every passing year makes it harder.”

Councillor Clare Moonan, rough sleeping lead, said: “At first glance, the recent estimate seems to show a large increase but the reality is we now have a more accurate reflection of the situation in the city.

“One of the key problems is that we know about 60 per cent of rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove have no local connection. It is a popular seaside city with a welcoming reputation, people want to come here and this puts a strain on our local services caring for rough sleepers.

“The increasingly difficult national situation is impacting on us locally. We are committed to making sure no one has to sleep on the streets by 2020 and will continue to work towards this goal for the good of all.”


UST six months ago Allan Morrie was a successful businessman.

He was behind Hastings community interest company Allan’s Army, which featured in newspapers across Sussex.

But late last year he encountered money troubles and after 22 weeks of late payments on his flat, he was kicked out.

With nowhere else to go, he moved on to the streets of Brighton where he has been for the last two months.

The 40-year-old said: “I’ve gone from having meetings with bishops and MPs six months ago as part of my work to losing everything. I lost my business, I lost my flat, I lost my van, so I packed my bags and came to Brighton.”

Since coming to Brighton, Allan has got into drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, although he is trying to curb these habits.

He said: “I just pushed the self destruct button: I had a mental breakdown and just lost the plot.”

He now sleeps behind a church in Hove and spends most of his days huddled in blankets in Western Road.

“It’s horrible out here, it’s hopeless,” he said, pointing to the brutally cold conditions. “It’s not natural. The first basic human instincts are food and shelter. It’s not right that in today’s society people are living on the street.”

Unfortunately, this is bleak reality for almost 150 rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove alone, with nearly 300 across Sussex, according to Government statistics.

It is clear to all that the homeless population in Brighton has increased, especially over the last couple of years.

Allan puts this down to the size of the city and the amounts of money people are willing to give the homeless.

“Sitting in the street here you can get £60, £70, £80 a day. I never ask anyone, people are just kind.”

Nearby in Queen’s Road is 34-year-old Emma Newlett. She has been homeless on and off since she was 16 and has lived on the streets in Bristol, Bath and Swanage.

Yet she believes people in Brighton are generally kinder to rough sleepers than anywhere else she has been.

However, life is not easy. She said: “I’m invisible to a lot of people” she said, describing how she has been urinated on, kicked, punched and had her tent taken away. “I’m back in a doorway until I can get enough money together for a new one.”

Brighton may be attractive to homeless people but it does not mean life on the streets is easy.

Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust, explained why he thinks so many homeless people come to Brighton.

He said: “People are still attracted to the city. If people are going to be homeless, they would rather be homeless in Brighton and Hove than Hull or Swindon.

“Some may have happy memories from childhood of Brighton, a previous association or even just from having seen it on TV. Some come because the city has a reputation as a party town.

“People don’t come here for the services, I’ve never heard someone say they came because the First Base Day Centre is so good. There are good centres everywhere.”

Although the situation appears bleak, there is hope it can get better.

Brighton and Hove City Council is working with partners, including St Mungo’s homeless charity, and the authority received £1.25 million last year to tackle the issue.

Despite his problems, Allan is optimistic for his own future. He said: “I’ve got faith that this isn’t going to be for ever, I’m a good guy and I’m meant to be doing more.”


A MAJOR piece of legislation designed to tackle the country’s housing crisis reaches its third reading in Parliament today.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill is being labelled as a “significant reform” to the country’s legislation on rough sleepers.

Supporters hope that it will help halt the rising homeless crisis which has now risen to 4,000 rough sleepers at the most recent counts.

South East Green MEP and former Brighton and Hove City Councillor Keith Taylor dubbed the figures an “utter disgrace” that should shame Britain.

The Harrow East MP’s proposed legislation, which has Government backing, requires local authorities to provide new homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who are protected under existing legislation.

It places a duty on local authorities to help eligible people at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness and to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further 56 days to help to secure accommodation.

The current limits are just 28 days.

The Bill will also ensure that other local services refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams.

While the proposals have been praised in widening the safety net for residents facing a life on the streets, concerns have been raised whether local authorities will have sufficient resources to cope with their increased responsibilities.

Campaigners claim claim homeless people in England are currently turned away with little or no help by councils if they are not considered a “priority”, even though they have nowhere else to stay.

The Bill received huge support from MPs in its second reading in Parliament in October and passed unopposed.

It returns to the House for the report stage and third reading before heading up to the House of Lords.