“For me, the most important lesson is that with the right combination of government support and collaboration across, and between, the key service providers, it is possible to end homelessness and rough sleeping.”
We are at a pivotal moment. I fervently hope that the government does the right thing and takes forward the recommendations in this interim reportLord Kerslake
The commission began evaluating the government’s rough sleeping response in March 2021, shortly after ministers urged councils to “redouble efforts” to protect rough sleepers during the third national lockdown in England.
Ministers initially kicked off the Everyone In scheme a year earlier, announcing that rough sleepers would be moved into self-contained, temporary accommodation as the pandemic hit the country for the first time.
In total, 37,000 people were protected through the scheme while efforts to find permanent housing continue. The intervention saved as many as 226 lives during the first lockdown, according to academics.
The commission, which includes MPs, homelessness charity bosses and representatives from local authorities, will deliver its final findings in September.
But interim findings have given the government 22 recommendations ahead of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, including treating street homelessness as a public health issue and flexible funding for local authorities to prevent rough sleeping more effectively.
The commission also called for the £20 universal credit increase to remain beyond October as well as more investment in permanent solutions such as Housing First.
More funding to build on the success of the Everyone In scheme is the “right thing to do”, added Lord Kerslake.
“Reducing and preventing rough sleeping and homelessness is both the right thing to do and will reduce subsequent costs and pressures on health and other services,” he said.
“If we fail to learn the lessons of ‘Everyone In’, all the signs from the commission’s work are that the situation will get worse not better, and homelessness and rough sleeping will increase.
“That would be an enormous lost opportunity for the government to deliver on its rough sleeping commitment, and a personal tragedy for those affected.
“We are at a pivotal moment. I fervently hope that the government does the right thing and takes forward the recommendations in this interim report.”
The need to keep up the momentum gained during the pandemic towards ending rough sleeping was echoed by St Mungo’s chief executive Steve Douglas CBE, who advises on the Commission, and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
“Right now we have a real opportunity to make our shared aim of ending rough sleeping a reality – we must take it,” said Douglas.
Meanwhile, Burnham cited homelessness charity Crisis’ statistics that preventing 40,000 people from becoming homeless could save £370m a year as he praised the impact of the Everyone In scheme in Manchester.
The Greater Manchester Mayor said: “Everyone In showed that you can take people off our streets and provide the wrap-around support they so badly need. We share the same ambition as the government to end rough sleeping – they should listen to Kerslake and continue to fund this policy because it works.”
Yesterday the UK government announced a new respite rooms trial programme to provide rough sleepers experiencing violence and abuse with safe housing.
The funding will create a total of 140 bedspaces across 12 local areas and support an estimated 1,100 people over a 12-month trial period.
Rough sleeping minister Eddie Hughes said: “This programme is part of the Government’s much wider action to help the most vulnerable in our communities, with £750 million investment this year to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of losing their homes right now. One UK household is being made homeless every three-and-a-half hours.
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