How bad is homelessness in the UK in 2018?

Throughout history, where there has been society there has been those who are homeless. In the dark ages and the medieval period, being homeless was just part of life and those who were, were often seen as being punished by God or lazy. In fact, there were laws against being homeless which were so severe that if you were caught begging, you would be labelled a “Vagabond.”

Being as such was punishable by law by forced labour, imprisonment or forced military service. In some cases, the person could be branded or publicly flogged to work to encourage those to take up work following the devastation of the black death. To us today, this seems ludicrous and inhumane, of course, and people who are homeless today are not viewed as a Vagabond would have been hundreds of years ago.


In modern society, the treatment of people who find themselves in these positions aims to help and re-home them, but at the same time criminalise homelessness and begging. Seems counterproductive to many.


In this guide on Bridging Loan Hub, we will be looking at the statics surrounding homelessness in the UK and how bad it has seemingly got over the last few years.

Homelessness in England

In 2016, there were reports that rough sleeping and homelessness were soaring. But where does that leave us now, two years later? It seems that according to a variety of sources that the number of homeless people who were sleeping on the streets in England hit its highest level on record. In fact, more than 4,500 people were recorded as sleeping rough on any given night in 2017 – this figure has doubled since 2010 and only risen in 2018.

Unsurprisingly, London represented almost a quarter (24%) of all rough sleepers in England. This equates to 1,140 on any given night – this is up 23% from the previous year.

Of those found sleeping rough in England alone, a fifth were non-UK nationals. It was also found that 14 per cent of those were women and 8 per cent were under 25 years old.

However, Crisis, a homelessness charity, claimed that the figures were actually a lot higher than this. They urge that the number is around 8,000 people sleeping rough across England.

Homelessness in Scotland

Likewise, the number of applications for homelessness in Scotland has soared, rising for the first time in nine years. The applications to local authorities rose by 1% to 34,972 between April 2017 and March 2018, according to the Scottish government.


In addition, it was found that an extra 557 children are having to live in temporary accommodation compared to 2017. This number has only been rising for the last four consecutive year.

Homelessness in Wales

Unsurprisingly, the number of rough sleepers has also increased in Wales according to new statistics. On one overnight count back in November 2017 showed that there were 188 people living on the streets, which was 47 more than 2016. Cardiff had the mist rough sleepers at 53, followed by Wrexham which had 44, then Swansea which had 21, Newport having 18 and Conwy with 10.

To tackle the problem, the Welsh Government is investing £20m over a period of two years and it has recently been announced there will be an extra £10m for 2019-2020.  One of the most prominent problems is that people are choosing to live on the streets over seeking shelter in a homeless hostel. There were a variety of reasons given for this, but the most common one was that these homeless shelters were riddled with the temptation of drug abuse, something which many of the people were trying to stay off.

Homelessness in Northern Ireland

In October 2018, the devastating news broke that 148 people who were registering as homeless in Northern Ireland have died whilst waiting for social housing in just short of a year. Previous to this, from October 2017 to August 2018, 13 people who were homeless per month had their applications closed due to their death.

Of the deaths of the 148, the figures showed that:

  • 63% were aged 60 or over
  • the youngest was only 18 years old
  • 93% of those were male