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Tracking progress towards ending rough sleeping

Rob Anderson is Director of Knowledge Implementation at the Centre for Homelessness Impact. In this blog he introduces a new framework for understanding rough sleeping.

Rough sleeping in England is rising, fast. We are falling into a familiar cycle of progress and retrenchment, which we last saw in the mid-2000’s where rough sleeping was reduced to very low numbers, before rising rapidly in the early 2010s.

One of the challenges is, while we know we’ve successfully reduced rough sleeping in the past, the data and evidence we have hasn’t equipped us with the granular insight we need to translate short-term gains into long term success. The annual rough sleeping snapshot helps track trends over time. It tells us about the characteristics of people who have slept rough, and can be used for helpful international comparisons. But it can’t help us answer the crucial questions we need for better policy and practice: what’s working, where, why, and for whom.

This data gap was the catalyst for the creation of the Ending Rough Sleeping Data Framework, a national model to align data collection in every local authority with the definition of ending rough sleeping in order to track progress, identify challenges, and scale successes.

Between 2022 and 2024, we worked with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and five “early adopter” local areas, consisting of around 50 individual local authorities, in a unique partnership to make this vision of a national data framework a reality.

Together, we have worked to design and rollout a shared dataset to:

● Simplify and harmonise data collection and reporting on rough sleeping nationally;

● Give everyone working to end rough sleeping a common language and consistent data sets; and,

● Enable better learning — by making it easier to understand what’s happening and working in local authorities across England, both at the local and national level.

Every local authority in England is now collecting eight key data points, tracking the extent to which rough sleeping is prevented or is otherwise rare, brief and non-recurring. The first of the indicators were rolled out in summer 2023, and published later that year, and provided ground-breaking insight into the drivers behind the sudden increase in people sleeping rough.

This month, local authorities have begun collecting the full dataset, with new and detailed data on the number of people moving into accommodation every month, the number of nights each person sleeping rough nationwide was known to spend out, and on how many people are returning to the streets having previously moved into accommodation.

This data will be published later this year by DLUHC.

At the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI), we are immensely proud to have been part of this ground-breaking work. This new dataset means we are better positioned to understand how to end rough sleeping in England.

We collaborated with our partners to produce a report which summarises the details of the Framework and shares learning from the rapid work which brought together leaders from across sectors to make it a reality.

We also highlight that, while the Framework is a big step forward in the quality, frequency and utility of data on rough sleeping, data will only ever be part of the answer. There is still an immense amount of work to be done to embed the use of quality data into decision-making at every level from the front line to the top of government.

Encouragingly, similar data-driven models are being adopted in the other nations of the UK. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, data frameworks seeking to track progress to ending all forms of homelessness, not just rough sleeping, are being developed and rolled out. This presents an exciting prospect of a UK-wide data-driven approach where a shared vision and common dataset enable faster learning and acceleration towards ending homelessness everywhere in the UK.

To find out more about the framework come to this free webinar on Monday June 24th.

Channel website: http://www.homelesslink.org.uk

Original article link: https://homeless.org.uk/news/tracking-progress-towards-ending-rough-sleeping/

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