Invest to eliminate homelessness
With just a week to go until he announces his Spending Review, we wrote to the Chancellor to draw his attention to interventions we believe are crucial to ensure that the Prime Minister’s ambition to eliminating rough sleeping and homelessness is realised.
We all know this has been a tumultuous year. Yet there can be no doubt that Government’s swift action and determination in the form of the Everyone In directive and an investment of an additional £700m, saved hundreds of lives. Like the Prime Minister, we want to keep our eyes on the prize of eliminating rough sleeping and homelessness for good. That is why we have asked that next week’s Spending Review is used to build upon recent emergency investment in homelessness and rough sleeping, throughout 2021/22. Now we have all seen what can be done, it would be an absolute tragedy to let this opportunity slip away.
However, there are already signs that the gains made from this spring’s herculean effort might indeed be slipping away. Members are already telling us that many of the growing numbers of people sleeping rough are new to the street. The latest statistics tell the same story, with rough sleeping in London higher than this time in 2019 and those aged under 25 now making up more than a tenth (11%) of the capital’s rough sleepers. In the context of deeply concerning projections of local authority shortfalls and pre-pandemic research showing that our sector was already facing an annual shortfall of £1bn, our letter tells the Chancellor that if the sector is to maintain the strength and depth necessary to eliminate rough sleeping and homelessness, our members need to be funded adequately and sustainably.
Already we are seeing people being pushed into rent arrears and so into greater risk of homelessness. This will only be compounded by a rise in unemployment set to be the be the sharpest for at least 50 years. So we have also called on the Chancellor to make changes to welfare provision: we asked that Government remove the cap in areas of high affordability pressure areas immediately and commit to adjusting the benefit cap levels such that they align with the Minimum Income Standard; for LHA to be kept at least the 30th percentile rate; for the £20/week uplift to UC to be kept and for this uplift to be extended to legacy benefits; and for the extension to the Shared Accommodation Rate exemptions to be brought forward.
Members will be aware that move-on accommodation is critical to the effective functioning of the homelessness sector and for the people we work with to truly recover from homelessness. To this end, we have also called on the Chancellor heed Parliament’s own Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee and commit to funding 90,000 new social homes - at social rents - in England each year, to 2023.
In a week’s time – a long time in politics at the best of times – we shall see whether Government is prepared to do what needs to be done and fully fund their mission to eliminate rough sleeping and homelessness for good.
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