The policy and practice framework is critical to ending homelessness in this country. This pages gives an introduction to the major central and local government initiatives that provide the context for the homeless sector and the people we work with.
You should also take a look at our latest Policy Round-up for the latest news and updates on the work of Homeless Link's Policy Team.
In mid-2011the first report of the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness announced the cross governmental strategy, Vision to end rough sleeping: No Second Night Out nationwide . The plan sets out six joint commitments for inter departmental work that give communities the tools to tackle rough sleeping and prevent people from spending a second night on the street. Homless Link's accompanying briefing can accessed here.
A key element of the Ministerial Woking Group's plan is the establishment of the Homelessness Transition Fund. This fund, administered by Homeless Link, aims to help end rough sleeping by protecting services, encouraging innovation and supporting communities to adopt the 'No Second Night Out' standard.
The second report of the Ministerial Working Group, 'Making Every Contact Count: A joint approach to preventing homelessness' was published in August 2012. The report focusses on the prevention of homelessness through joined up working between services at every level in areas such as health, justice and benefits. The report highlights the need to identify people at risk of homelessness as early as possible and have pathways out of homelessness for those who need them. Ten challenges for local government are set out that will lead to housing teams delivering a 'gold standard' of service. Find our full response here.
In March 2012 the Welfare Reform Act was passed by Parliament and ushers in the most extensive changes to welfare benefits in this country in 65 years. Whilst homeless Link understands and supports many of the principles that underpin the reforms, we are extremely concerned that they will lead to increased homelessness, difficulties in recovering from homelessness, further disadvantaging vulnerable people and a reduced capacity for services to provide support. Homeless Link is working with the DWP to ensure that the voice of homeless people is heard as guidance is being finalised. Go to our Welfare Reform page for more details on each of the legislative domains and our responses to them.
The white paper 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS' and the susebquent 'Health and Social Care Bill 2012' have introduced extensive changes to the form and operation of healthcare in England. Health and Wellbeing Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups, as well as several other new bodies, are significantly altering the way health services are commissioned and delivered. See our Health Glossary: The New Landscape of Healthcare Provision in England explaining the function of these new healthcare structures and our Health and Homelessness pages for more information.
Of particular interest to those working with homeless is the Inclusion Health Board, a national group chaired by Profressor Steve Field tasked with improving health outcomes for excluded patient groups: homeless people, gypsies and travellers, migrants and sex workers. Homeless Link is pleased to be represented on several of the working groups and will be working with the DH and the Board to ensure the NHS reforms can make real changes to reduced health inequalities among homeless and other vulnerbale people.
The Decentralisation and Localism Bill, passed in 2010, constitutes by far the most comprehensive and extensive changes to local government in recent memory. Shifting power from centalised state to local communities, the Bill has a wide scope. Housing will undergo the most fundamental reforms, for example local authorities having the power to complete their main homeless duty with an offer in the private rented sector.
Homeless Link has commented on the housing component of this bill in our consultation response 'A Fairer Future for Social Housing Consultation' and has produced a briefing on the Localism Bill that can be accessed here.
Supporting People (SP) funding issued to local authorities has been rolled into what is called the Formula Grant or Area Based Grant. SP is now an undifferentiated element of the Grant and consequently it has become very difficult to track exactly how much each authority is spending on services for homeless people. Most importantly the ringfence that ensured sufficient money was spent on services for vulnerable groups was removed in 2009 and LAs now have considerable discretion over how much funding they allocate to services that work with the homeless.
Homeless Link has launched a joint briefing for local authorities '4 facts, 4 questions about the future of Supporting People'. Homeless Link has written a report in December Who Is Supporting People Now looking at funding for housing support folowing the removal of the ringfence