Ending rough sleeping in England


Successive UK governments have made a commitment to end rough sleeping across England, and huge progress has been made despite the significant challenges posed by Covid-19. It is crucial that this positive momentum keeps going, and that you know what is working to achieve success. But without a clear definition, how will you know you are being successful?

As a first step towards this and to help accelerate progress, measure success and celebrate wins along the way, a clearer definition was adopted by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, as announced by Parliamentary Under-then Secretary of State for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes in March 2022.

the definition

Ending rough sleeping by preventing it wherever possible and, where it cannot be prevented, making it a rare, brief, and non-recurrent experience.

Core Indicators

There are five core indicators that enable local areas to consistently track their progress towards the goal of ending rough sleeping. These indicators are relevant to every part of the country and will allow areas to capture the prevalence of specific types of experiences of rough sleeping (for example, someone who is experiencing long term rough sleeping, or repeated rough sleeping) and shape their response to best tackle the challenges.

Not every person will fit neatly into a category. Instead, they’re intended to provide useful information to teams working with people experiencing rough sleeping.


Directly tracking the prevalence of homelessness nationally and locally


Number of people sleeping rough

This indicator should is reported as the number of individuals seen sleeping rough during the reporting period, and as captured via a snapshot count.

Areas should be working towards reducing this number to zero, or as close to zero as possible.


Reduce the prevalence of people experiencing homelessness in the first place


Number of new people sleeping rough

A person is considered ‘new’ if they have not been seen sleeping rough in the Local Authority in the 5 calendar years (60 months) preceding the date they were seen sleeping rough during the current reporting period. If a person was seen more than 5 years previously, they are to be counted as ‘New’. If you do not have historical data for 5 years, people seen sleeping rough for the first time should be counted as ‘New’ while you build a historical database.

Effective prevention should see this indicator decline over time.


People seen rough sleeping after being discharged from institutions

A person is counted as having left an institution recently if they report having been discharged from any of the below within the last 85 days (12 weeks + 1 day):

  • Prisons (adult and youth)

  • Other justice accommodation e.g. accommodation provided by the National Probation Service (i.e. Approved Premises)

  • General and psychiatric hospitals

  • Discharged from the UK Armed Forces

  • National Asylum Support Services Accommodation

People under 25 who are care leavers are also included in this estimate using data from existing rough sleeping management information returns.

Effective prevention should see this indicator reduce over time.


Identify people experiencing homelessness and supporting them into accommodation


Number of people experiencing long-term rough sleeping

This indicator reports the number of people experiencing multiple and/or sustained episodes of rough sleeping. Individuals will meet the criteria for this indicator if they have been seen recently (within the reporting month), and have also been seen out in 3 or more months out of the last 12 months.

Areas should seek to reduce this indicator given the high levels of harm associated with long-term street homelessness.


Support people who have previously been homeless to not return to it


Number of people returning to rough sleeping

This indicator reports the number of people who were seen sleeping rough previously and have returned to the streets after a period of time. A ‘returner’ is defined as a person seen sleeping rough again after no contact for 2 or more quarters (180 days), whichever is shorter, measured from the last date the person was seen. This should allow areas to understand how many people are experiencing recurring episodes of rough sleeping.

This number should reduce over time if prevention and off-the-streets pathways work effectively.

Ending Rough Sleeping: Implementation Guide

Download the supporting implementation guide covering the new data framework. It is intended for Local Authorities, Combined Authorities, or commissioned services wanting to understand what data is required to implement the framework, and how it will be used.

Download the guide
A photograph of the printed Ending Rough Sleeping in England Implementation Guide

Additional Reading


March 13, 2023

Using data to end long-term rough sleeping

In this blog, Fraser Nicholson, details the challenges faced by seaside towns like Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole, and how they're using the Ending Rough Sleeping Framework to help tackle the complex issue of rough sleeping.

Read more

February 28, 2023

Using data to guide and track work to end rough sleeping

Find out more about a new data-driven approach that will give fresh insights into the nature of rough sleeping in each area of England and help local leaders drive progress towards ending it. 

Read more

February 28, 2023

New data points the way to ending rough sleeping for good

A new data-driven approach to tackling rough sleeping will give fresh insights into the nature of rough sleeping in each area of England and help local leaders drive progress towards ending it.

Read more