Today (13 August 2018) the Government has announced its strategy and £100 million of funding to end rough sleeping by 2027.
Combined with the recent implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the creation of the Rough Sleeping Initiative and last week’s announcement on supported housing, it is clear that rough sleeping is firmly on the Government’s agenda.
MEAM is pleased that the strategy takes a system-wide view of rough sleeping (including the impact of poverty and childhood experiences) and that it promotes a cross government response based on three core areas of prevention, intervention and recovery.
We are pleased to see a range of cross-departmental announcements including:
- £3.2 million for specialist personal advisers providing intensive support to the most at risk care leavers.
- £3 million for a range of pilots to help people leaving prison find stable and sustainable accommodation and the introduction of an ‘accommodation on release’ performance metric for prison Governors from 2019/20.
- £2 million in health funding to enable access to health and support services for people who are sleeping rough and up to £30m for health services for homeless people following an audit of provision later this year. Given the specific needs of people facing a combination of rough sleeping, mental health problems and substance misuse, we look forward to hearing more detail on the implementation of this part of the strategy.
- A focus on the specific needs of women including diversion from custody to community provision. We continue to discuss the detail of the implementation of the Female Offender Strategy with Government.
- Homelessness experts for every Jobcentre Plus to ensure that people receive the support they need to access and navigate the benefit system and find work.
We are also pleased to see the following important commitments:
- Funding for Rough Sleeping Navigators to ensure that people sleeping rough can access local systems. We welcome this implementation of learning from both MEAM Approach and Fulfilling Lives areas and look forward to more detailed conversations on the development of this part of the strategy with MHCLG.
- A commitment to explore accountability for ending rough sleeping at a local level, including a strengthened role for local homelessness strategies and the possibility of local Homelessness Reduction Boards. As we have long argued (see here and here), getting the accountability structures right at the local and national level will be vital to ending rough sleeping.
- A commitment to work with people with lived experience to inform the delivery and future updates of the strategy.
This strategy is a significant step towards the Government’s ambition of ending rough sleeping by 2027. It recognises that more work is needed, particularly in relation to the supply of homes and the implementation of welfare reform, and it will be crucial action is also taken on these issues if the strategy is to make a difference in the long term.
Oliver Hilbery, director of the MEAM coalition said:
“We welcome today’s rough sleeping strategy as a significant step towards the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping by 2027. The strategy sets out the need for a cross government response and the announcements around criminal justice, substance misuse, health and care are important steps towards a truly cross-departmental commitment.
“At the local level we welcome the announcement about navigators and look forward to talking to MHCLG in more detail about the learning from navigators in MEAM Approach areas. We also welcome the commitment to explore shared accountability structures for ending rough sleeping in local areas and a stronger role for local homelessness strategies.
“Today’s rough sleeping strategy has the potential to unite services in local areas behind a shared ambition and we look forward to working with government on its implementation.”
Baroness Tyler, chair of the MEAM coalition said:
“We welcome today’s rough sleeping strategy and the plans it puts in place to help end rough sleeping by 2027. The strategy rightly recognises the many drivers of rough sleeping including poverty and adverse childhood experiences, and the cross-government responses that are needed to support people to improve their lives.
“I am particularly pleased to see the announcements on mental health and substance misuse treatment and look forward to supporting government action on these important issues. I am also pleased to see a focus on women in the criminal justice system and better support for children leaving care.
“At MEAM we support 35 local areas across the country that are working to deliver better coordinated services for people with the most complex needs. I hope that the learning from our work can help shape the implementation of the new strategy and drive cross-departmental commitment across Whitehall.”