Thomson Reuters Foundation

The number of homeless people in England has soared past 300,000, with one in 200 sleeping rough, a charity said on Wednesday, conceding the true figure is likely to be higher.

Homelessness has risen by four per cent - an increase of 13,000 people - since last year, leaving many sleeping on the streets or crammed with family members inside basic hostel rooms, according to Shelter.

Many people end up homeless because of rising rents, welfare cuts and a lack of affordable homes, the housing charity said.

At least 4,100 people slept rough across England on any given night in 2016 - a 16 per cent increase on 2015 and more than double the number in 2010, according to the homeless charity Crisis.

"It's shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless," Polly Neate, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said in a statement. "And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for."

The charity said a third of those living in temporary accommodation in England will still be homeless with a year.

Homelessness figures include people who are sleeping rough, in hostels or in temporary accommodation, according to Shelter.

"On a daily basis, we speak to hundreds of people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness," Ms Neate said.

"A trap that is tightening, thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts."

Human traffickers prey on homeless people, luring them into slave labour with promises of accommodation and work, charities said last week.