A new report showed that the number of homeless people rose in Kingston last year as a borough charity suggested the statistics were only now catching up to reality.

The report was published by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and presented year on year information about people seen rough sleeping by outreach teams in London.

It used information derived from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN), a multi-agency database recording information about rough sleepers and the wider street population in London that is commissioned and funded by the GLA and managed by St Mungo’s homelessness charity.

In it, homelessness statistics across London boroughs was analysed, featuring figures from April 2015 to March 2019.

The CHAIN report showed that there were 86 rough sleepers noted in Kingston for April 2018 to March 2019, a rise of 72 per cent from the previous 2017/18 figure of 50.

The 2015/16 figure for Kingston was 31.

The percentage rise between 2017/18 and 2018/19 in Kingston was significantly higher than that for Greater London as a whole.

According to the statistics, the overall number of rough sleepers logged on the capital's streets in 2018/19 was 8,855 — a rise of 18 per cent from the 2017/18 figure (7,484).

Nevertheless, the method of sending outreach teams into the boroughs to spot homeless people might not reflect the full extent of the situation.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet, Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH) Operational Director Matt Hatton said the actual figure could be significantly higher.

"Those numbers have been there for a few years already. If you go by the number of people who used our services then there (are) definitely more than 86 rough sleepers — people who experience homelessness — over the one-year period.

"The numbers we've seen in our night shelter scheme for example reflect that.

"There were 251 individuals that used the night shelter scheme between the end of September (2018) and end of March (2019)... and the majority were homeless," Mr Hatton pointed out.

"In 2018, 482 new clients registered with KCAH and 273 of them declared themselves as ‘homeless on the day," he added.

Though the exact figure might be very difficult to obtain, the 18 per cent rise in homelessness across Greater London points to a clearer trend in the increase in rough sleeping in London in recent years.

It's a situation that can be difficult to explain in its entirety.

Mr Hatton highlighted the political embrace of "austerity" in Britain as a contributing factor, but added that this alone did not give the full story.

"The reasons go beyond austerity and are extremely complex... two key reasons that our clients give for their homelessness, for instance, is relationship breakdown and also loss of tenancy.

"Lack of affordable housing and high rental prices in Kingston is certainly another issue," he said.

Placed alongside other London authorities, however, Kingston ranked relatively low regarding total numbers of homeless within its jurisdiction according to the GLA-CHAIN figures.

KCAH pointed out its coordination with Kingston Council (RBK) to tackle homelessness, saying the relationship between both organisations was "vital" in the work they do.

According to the GLA, the worst performing borough for homelessness was Westminster, where 2,512 rough sleepers were recorded, up from 2,165 in the previous year.

Next highest for the latest year were Camden (815) and Newham (612).

The London borough with the lowest number of homeless people recorded in 2018/19 was Harrow (30).

Kingston Council (RBK) were contacted for comment.

To read the full GLA-CHAIN report on homelessness, go to: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/chain-reports