The latest official statistics show that on one night in 2011 there were 2,181 rough sleepers in England, up 413 from 1,768 on the same night the previous year. London and the South East had the highest number of rough sleepers with more than 400 in each region.

The news comes as mesures to criminalise squatting continue to progress through Parliament. The plans have been pushed by Hove MP Mike Weatherly. In Brighton & Hove last year there were 368 households classified as homeless, but 3,655 empty homes.

Howard Sinclair, the chief executive of the Broadway charity, told the Guardian: “do I think that the figures will get worse? Yes, I think this is the start. As people get into debt, as the benefit changes take effect, as people get evicted, this problem will become more acute. Yes, the government has kept the homelessness grant. But most prevention and support services are funded out of Supporting People budgets, which have been cut by 20% by local authorities.”

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