Homelessness response leaves many vulnerable despite reduction in rough sleeping
A total of 2,688 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in England on a single night in autumn 2020, representing a 37% decrease from the 2019 figure of 4,266, according to the Government’s 2020 Rough Sleeping Snapshot, published yesterday.
While this is the largest percentage decrease since 2010 – due in part to the exceptional action taken to support people sleeping rough during the Covid-19 pandemic – the number of people sleeping rough remains 52% higher than a decade previously.
Responding to these statistics, Rick Henderson, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, comments:
“Significantly fewer people are now sleeping rough on a single night and this achievement is something to celebrate. It is in no small part due to Everyone In, and the Next Steps Accommodation and Protect Programmes brought in to protect against Covid-19.
“While it is unfortunate that it took exceptional circumstances – a global pandemic – to prompt the focussed action and investment required, it proves what can be accomplished with joint effort across government and between sectors.
“However, we cannot ignore the unacceptable fact that thousands of people are still forced to sleep on our streets. People with no recourse to public funds, and those newly arriving on the streets having lost jobs and homes during the pandemic, continue to be overlooked in the current homelessness response, to their huge detriment.
“Prevention will be key going forward, but the end of the eviction ban in March and the risk that the Universal Credit uplift will be removed, threaten this. Having achieved so much, we must not lose momentum. We need to bring and keep everyone in for good, developing a longer-term funding strategy to ensure sustainable results and addressing the root causes of homelessness in all its forms.”
The Government statistics are available here.
Homeless Link is delighted that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has committed to provide £350,000 in funding for the continued operation of StreetLink in 2021/22. This service is a key element of the response to rough sleeping, enabling members of the public to send an alert when they see someone sleeping out, thereby providing extra intelligence for local outreach services who go out to find people and connect them to appropriate support to end their homelessness.
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