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02/03/2020

Johnson vows to end rough sleeping

Words: Laura Edgar
Rough sleeping / iStock-92399945

The sum of £236 million will used to help those sleeping rough get off the street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

The new funding will be used to offer Housing First-style ‘move on’ accommodation for up to 6,000 people sleeping rough to provide long-term stability and certainty, explained the prime minister’s office. It will also help those at immediate risk of rough sleeping.

Johnson has also appointed Dame Louise Casey to review the problem of rough sleeping. This is intended to provide the government with advice on any additional action required to end rough sleeping “within this Parliament”.

Adam Holloway MP has been made parliamentary private secretary to housing secretary Robert Jenrick, with specific responsibility for rough sleeping.

Johnson said: “It is simply unacceptable that we still have so many people sleeping on the streets, and I am absolutely determined to end rough sleeping once and for all.

“We must tackle the scourge of rough sleeping urgently, and I will not stop until the thousands of people in this situation are helped off the streets and their lives have been rebuilt.”

Johnson made the commitment before statistics on rough sleeping were published. These estimated that there were 4,266 people sleeping rough on a single night in last autumn.

This is 411 people (9 per cent) fewer than the number in 2018 and a decline of 10 per cent compared with the peak in 2017. Overall since 2010, though, it is 2,498 more people (141 per cent) than 2010.

Of local authorities in England, 244 are part of the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), which aims to help people who are homeless. Across these local authorities, there were 3,863 people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night last autumn – 514 people fewer than in 2018.

A total of 83 local authorities have been receiving funding since 2018 to address levels of rough sleeping, there were 2,474 people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2019, 294 people fewer than in 2018.

According to the government statistics, across the 73 local authority areas that are not part of the RSI, the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough has increased by 103 people (34 per cent) from 300 people, compared with 2018.

In London, there were 1,136 people estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in autumn 2019, which is 147 people (11 per cent) fewer than 2018.


Reaction:

Giles Archibald, better lives spokesperson at the District Councils Network (DCN), said: “While the number of rough sleepers has continued to fall, these are still worrying figures which reinforce the need to tackle rough sleeping and the other forms of homelessness, which are alarmingly high.

“Districts play a key role preventing homelessness and want to make sure everyone in their communities has a secure affordable place to call home.

“To help districts do this, we call on the government in next month’s Budget to ensure the Local Housing Allowance covers the costs of housing. There are too many householders on benefit who are unable to afford decent quality private rented housing, and are at risk of ending up homeless.

“Councils also need to be given the freedom to deliver affordable housing at scale again including by allowing them to keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy sales receipts.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s good news if fewer people are facing the trauma of sleeping on the streets. But a word of warning, the number of people sleeping rough remains well over double what it was in 2010.   

“The prime minister rightly wants to end rough sleeping before the end of this parliament, but unless his government tackles the drought of genuinely affordable homes, homelessness isn’t going anywhere. Rough sleeping is only the tip of the iceberg – there are literally hundreds of thousands more homeless people stuck in temporary accommodation.   

“You can’t put a plaster on a gaping wound. Serious investment in social housing is what’s needed. The upcoming budget is the perfect opportunity to champion a new generation of social homes and increase housing benefit, so it covers the basic cost of private rents.” 


Image credit | iStock

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