Charities call for better homelessness support for single people

Monday, 16 March 2015 - 3:25pm

Homeless Link is one of six signatories of a letter to MPs calling for a review of the help available under law to people at risk of homelessness.

Homelessness is a devastating experience. It’s isolating and frightening and often leaves people feeling invisible and ignored. At its most extreme it results in people being forced to sleep rough, with devastating consequences: the average age of death for a rough sleeper is just 47 and homeless people sleeping on the street are 13 times more likely to be a victim of a violent crime. Research shows nearly eight in ten of all homeless people, including those offered respite in temporary accommodation, have some form of health problem. The shocking truth, however, is that even in the 21st century, in one of the richest countries in the world, homeless people who ask their local councils for help are being turned away to sleep on the streets. This is nothing short of a scandal.

As members of the country’s leading homelessness organisations, we are calling on political parties to carry out a review of the assistance given to homeless people in England. The review should consider options for improving the assistance provided by local authorities to single homeless people who are not currently classified as priority need, while ensuring that vital protections for families and those considered priority need are maintained.  

Recent research into the help given to single homeless people who approach their local authority found that in over half of the visits they received inadequate or insufficient support. This echoes the experience of many households in priority need.  Across the country, this is likely to mean thousands of homeless people are turned away with nothing and many forced to sleep rough.

Now is the time to act. All forms of homelessness have risen since 2010. It is vital that existing statutory protection is accessible and can be delivered in good faith. It is now also right that we consider whether single people are adequately served by current provision.

In England, over 45,000 people have signed a petition calling for the law for single homeless people to be reviewed. It is not only members of the public who are concerned: a recent survey of MPs found only 15% think homeless people get enough help from their council, while nearly two thirds think councils should have a duty to do more to prevent homelessness. More than three quarters of MPs believe homelessness should be a priority for the government.

Whoever forms the next government will have a unique opportunity to solve this injustice and prevent homeless people getting turned away. We are therefore asking you to please make a manifesto commitment to carry out a review of the assistance given to homeless people under the law and ensure this is treated as a priority if you are in government. 

The six signatories of the joint letter are Crisis, Shelter, Centrepoint, St Mungo’s Broadway, Homeless Link and Housing Justice.

In Let's make the difference: a manifesto to end homelessness, Homeless Link calls for a long-term strategy for investing in support for single people who become homeless, and sets out the steps needed to acheive this. 

Download Let's make the difference: a manifesto to end homelessness

This manifesto, based on the views of people who have experienced homelessness in England and those who support them, sets out priority actions the new government can take to make the greatest difference to homelessness.


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Stephen Holland

Stephen served as our Communications Officer until January 2016.