MORE than 80 people were living on the streets of Hampshire near the end of last year, new government figures show.

Now councils say they will work to get more rough sleepers into permanent beds.

The pledge was made after data, which looked at rough sleeping numbers last autumn, revealed that Southampton had the highest number of rough sleepers in the county, with 29 people spending their nights on the street – the same as the year before.

Of those, 11 were found to be non-UK EU citizens.

Portsmouth was the next highest with 19, of which one was a non-UK EU national. The city also had the biggest decrease from the year before, which saw 42 people on its streets

Test Valley had nine homeless people – an increase from just two in 2017.

The New Forest (up one to a four-year high), and Winchester (down one) had eight people recorded, respectively.

A spokesperson for Southampton City Council said: “Last year, working with partners, 12 extra bed spaces were provided in the 3 large hostels in the city specifically for rough sleepers and a further 6 bed spaces have been added this year..

“These beds have been available since before Christmas and will remain so throughout the cold weather. Where rough sleepers have accepted these additional services, they will be prioritised for permanent beds and homes.”

The council added that in a bid to tackle the problem, it had recently updated its Preventing Homelessness Strategy 2018-2023, and has also secured the additional use of homes for homeless families.

The spokesperson added: “The yearly count represents a valuable yearly snapshot of rough sleeping, however the 29 individuals who appeared in the 2017 count are not the same individuals as those that were recorded in 2018 [also 29].

“We know that from other night counts that this a fluid situation with new people arriving. On the night of the 2018 count there were five individuals who had no local connection to the city, in addition to the 11 EU nationals mentioned in the statistics.”

Speaking about Test Valley rise from two to nine rough sleepers, housing and environmental health chief at the borough council, Phil Bundy, said: “The council is committed to helping any local resident who is sleeping rough and will always offer emergency accommodation to prevent and relieve rough sleeping.

“Though our autumn estimate increased, this has since reduced to three thanks to the tireless efforts of our housing officers and partner agencies. This is, of course, still three too many and we continue to work with these individuals to try to bring them inside.

“Tackling homelessness remains one of the council’s main priorities. Last year we increased our investment in front line housing services by £100,000 to underline that promise.”