Birmingham Rough Sleeper Budget Rises 270%, But Council Doesn’t Record Deaths

Despite significant budget increases to tackle rough sleeping, Birmingham City Council does not record deaths of rough sleepers in the city.

By Taybad, Sumayyah, and Anon, Birmingham · May 18, 2020

Birmingham City Council doesn’t know how many rough sleepers have died in Birmingham in the last five years, according to new data released by the council. 

According to data sourced by the media literacy charity The Student View, the council do not keep a record of these deaths.

The data also revealed that Birmingham City Council’s budget for homelessness issues in the city has risen from £3,237,000 in 2015/16 to £11,972,000 in 2019/202, an increase of 270%.

A spokesperson for Birmingham City Council said: “Every day our outreach team and commissioned services are out on the streets supporting rough sleepers. We’re also coordinating the work of public sector agencies with voluntary, faith and community groups in Birmingham, as well as supporting a regional approach. This means that all of the actions being taken by those supporting the homeless complement one another and are working to achieve the same thing; to help people rough sleeping and encourage them into accommodation.

“We’re seeing the positive impact of this approach. At the 2018 rough sleeper count, Birmingham had 91 people sleeping rough on our city’s streets. In 2019, this was reduced by 42% as we saw the figure decline to 52. In the last six weeks, we’ve had an increase in funding from the Government. This, combined with being able to proactively explain the impact of coronavirus to those sleeping rough, means we’ve been able to accommodate an approximate 50 additional people.

“While the annual rough sleeper count is a snapshot of just one night, our outreach teams are out on the streets everyday building trust and better understanding of homelessness across the city. Working closely with our partners, we are confident that we have a good picture of what is happening on our streets, so that we can make sure that we have the right resources, in the right places.”

Why did students choose to cover this story?

The students said: “We chose this topic because it is sad to see homeless people on the streets without shelter in bad conditions.”

How did the answers make our journalists feel? 

“The answers we got back made us feel shocked, because these rough sleepers are dying on the streets and no one knows about it.”