The number of people sleeping rough on Britain's streets is predicted to increase by a third over the next decade, a new report has warned.
Research from the national homeless charity, Crisis, has found that roughly 9,100 people were sleeping rough at any one time in 2016. It has also forecast that the number could increase to 16,000 by 2026 if 'current policies continue unchanged'.
Nearly a quarter of a million people across Britain are experiencing some form of homelessness in what critics have condemned as a 'national scandal'.
It is calculated that 159,000 households are sleeping rough or living in unsuitable temporary accommodation, marking a rise of nearly a third since 2011, according to the new analysis.
Some 26,000 households were also living on public transport or in tents, cars, squats, women's refuges or winter night shelters. There were also instances of families living illegally in B&Bs for weeks at a time, with no other option.
The charity warned that unless something was done to solve the problem, the most acute forms of homelessness were likely to keep growing. From current estimates, the overall numbers forecast could rise by more than a quarter (26.5 percent) over the next 10 years.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said the charity's 50th anniversary this year was 'little cause for celebration'.
He said: "We still exist because homelessness still exists, and today's report makes it only too clear that unless we take action as a society, the problem is only going to get worse with every year that passes.
"Regardless of what happens in people's lives, whatever difficulties they face or choices they make, no one should ever have to face homelessness. With the right support at the right time, it doesn't need to be inevitable. There are solutions, and we're determined to find them and make them a reality."
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "This Government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society and we're working to make sure people always have a roof over their head.
"Alongside investing £550m to 2020 to address the issue, we're implementing the Homelessness Reduction Act, which will require councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless.
"There's more to do and ministers will set out plans shortly."
Labour's shadow housing secretary, John Healey, argued that the issue was a "direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers: a steep drop in investment for affordable homes, crude cuts to housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services, and a refusal to help private renters."