Dozens of people are sleeping rough across East Lancashire, and hundreds, including children, living in temporary accommodation. 

The figures have been revealed as the government announced £220 million in cash to help fund thousands of beds and specialist support services across the country through local councils, including a share of £700,000 for people in Blackburn with Darwen.

But homeless charity, Emmaus has said the figures are “totally unacceptable” as “one person rough sleeping is one too many”.

Stephen Buchanan, director of Emmaus Burnley, said: “These figures are totally unacceptable; one person rough sleeping is one too many.

“While we understand money has been announced by central government to help local councils tackle homelessness, this is too little too late, and there is no mention of support for charities filling the gaps.

“This is why Emmaus UK has joined 36 other leading homelessness charities in an open letter to call on the Chancellor to urgently address the dire financial situation facing homelessness services.

“People coming to Emmaus for support are often among the hidden homeless.

“That is, people who go unseen and might not have been counted in this snapshot: people forced to sleep in vehicles, spend the night in public toilets, stay with friends or in empty buildings.

“When we are looking at the numbers of these people, taking in all forms of homelessness, the true figure of homelessness in this town [Burnley] is much higher.”


New figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) show six people were estimated to be sleeping rough in Blackburn with Darwen based on a snapshot of a single night in autumn last year – down from 10 the year before.

The figures also showed seven people were estimated to be sleeping rough in Burnley, up from four the year before.

In Hyndburn, eight people were estimated to be sleeping rough, up from three in 2022.

Five people were thought to be sleeping rough in Pendle, up from zero in 2022, and one person was believed to be sleeping on the streets in the Ribble Valley compared to none the year before.

Meanwhile, in Rossendale, it was estimated that there were no rough sleepers in 2023, down from two in 2022.

Across England, the numbers have soared, with homelessness charities blaming the government's "ineffectiveness" to solve the housing crisis.

The government previously pledged to end rough sleeping by 2024, but since the "Everyone In" scheme – which housed homeless people in emergency hotels during the coronavirus pandemic – ended in 2021, the number of people sleeping on the streets has rocketed.

Nationally, the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough rose by 27 per cent last year to 3,898.

This remains below pre-pandemic levels but represents a significant increase of 60 per cent in the last two years.

The count includes people sleeping outside, but does not cover sofa surfers, those in hostels or shelters, or people in recreational or traveller sites, and figures are generally considered to be an undercount of the true number.

Further DLUHC figures show 109,000 households in England were living in temporary accommodation as of September.

This was up 10 per cent on the last year, and the highest figure on record.

It included 31 households in Blackburn with Darwen – two more than the year before, and 33 households in Burnley – a rise of 12 on the year before.

Meanwhile, the number of children living in temporary accommodation also hit a record-high of 142,490, including 38 in Blackburn with Darwen, and 17 in Burnley.

Lancashire Telegraph: An Emmaus Department Store in Rochdale Exchange Shopping CentreAn Emmaus Department Store in Rochdale Exchange Shopping Centre (Image: Emmaus Burnley)

A DLUHC spokesperson said at the end of February: "We are now spending an unprecedented £2.4 billion to help people at risk of homelessness and support rough sleepers, including £220 million announced this week, which will help fund thousands of beds and specialist support services across the country through councils.

"Whilst we have made good progress and rough sleeping remains below pre-pandemic levels, there is more work to be done to meet our ambition to end it entirely, and we will continue to work with local authorities to help people off the streets for good."

Within that £220 million cash fund, is £700,000 for hundreds of families across Blackburn with Darwen, and also Rossendale and other parts of East Lancashire.

The money, £453k of which is being allocated to Blackburn with Darwen, will help to prevent those living in the area from becoming homeless, with rough sleepers supported to accommodation away from the streets.

The government announced the funding boost via the Homelessness Prevention Grant, which targets areas most in need and includes specialist support for the most vulnerable who require mental health or substance misuse support.

The funding boost promises to build on the government’s strategy to tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping for good.

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, said: “I am delighted that Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale Councils are receiving almost £700k in order to help rough sleepers off the streets and to prevent homelessness.

“I am keen to work with Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen Councils on a prevention first approach, which focuses on preventing people from sleeping rough in the first place.

“I’ll keep working hard to secure more funding for our councils to help them support the most vulnerable across Rossendale and Darwen.”

In Blackburn with Darwen, the council has already extended the use of the homeless pods at Shadsworth, which help to temporarily accommodate street sleepers and were first set up during the Covid pandemic.

Coun Damian Talbot, executive member for adults and health, said: “It’s good news that Blackburn with Darwen will receive £453,763 to help rough sleepers to get off the streets and to prevent homelessness, with Rossendale receiving the remainder £218,616. 

“This is an increase of £103,151 on top of our scheduled payment of £350,612 to help towards addressing the homelessness pressures and to support Ukrainians into settled accommodation.

“We continue to work hard to protect some of the most vulnerable residents in our borough, towards ending rough sleeping and ensuring that throughout the winter period everyone has an offer of warm, safe accommodation.”

In Burnley, homelessness help is available through Emmaus, which provides people who have been homeless, as well as people experiencing other forms of homelessness, such as sofa surfing or living in temporary accommodation with support, work opportunities and a fresh start.

Mr Buchanan, from Emmaus Burnley, added: “After a lot of hard work across Emmaus in Lancashire, several people recently reached the last step in their support programmes and have now moved into employment and their own homes.

“So, places are currently available for people who need help moving on from homelessness.”

Cllr Damian Talbot, public health boss at Blackburn with Darwen Council was contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

If you or someone you know has been affected by homelessness or is at risk of becoming homeless, please head to and visit ‘get support’.

If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping, please contact StreetLink which can link to the nearest outreach service. 

Rough sleeping is defined as people sleeping, or about to bed down, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or other temporary dwellings.

Figures include people sleeping in buildings or other places not designed for living in, such as stair wells, car parks, stations or makeshift shelters.