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On 16 Jun, the new housing minister, Grant Shapps MP, made his most important announcement to date, stating that the current "flawed" methods for street counts will be scrapped in favour of a new approach. This follows the last official figures for the number of rough sleepers in England as 464.
"Councils and charities are doing a great job in helping people off the streets, but the current counting system makes a mockery of the scale of the problem they face," Shapps said, adding that: "This coalition government will not stick our heads in the sand and ignore the true picture of the number of those facing life on the streets."
The announcement that the current system of street counts will be replaced from 2011 was made as Shapps also convened a new Homelessness Working Group, including ministers from many Whitehall departments. The members are: Grant Shapps MP (Con) - Department for Communities and Local Government (Chair); Andrew Robathan MP (Con) - Ministry of Defence (welfare of veterans); John Hayes MP (Con) - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (adult skills); Paul Burstow MP (Lib) - Department of Health (health and care services); Lord David Freud (Con) - Department for Work and Pensions (housing benefit); Crispin Blunt MP (Con) - Ministry of Justice (criminal justice); James Brokenshire (Con) - Home Office (crime prevention); and Tim Loughton MP (Con) - Department for Education (children and youth services).