"We will... end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament" (Conservative Manifesto 2019)
With adequate long-term funding the homelessness sector could end homelessness for good.
The ‘Everyone In’ initiative alongside wider interventions during the pandemic, saved lives, and supported tens of thousands of people into secure accommodation. But funding for these initatives is ending.
The Comprehensive Spending Review in October 2021 set government budgets for the next 3 years and provided an opportunity to once and for all ensure everyone in for good.
We know from our members just how important it is that long term sufficient funding is found for their work. “I had a lot of sleepless nights....how are we gonna fund these posts? And it was kind of like, well, how about we take a bit out of this pot and put it there and that would do for maybe two months and then we’d see what happens. … We need all our staff, so how do we keep them all? You know, how do we pay the bills at the end of the month?” A response to our survey of the sector
A recent poll of Homeless Link members showed that 75% of responding members find short-term funding negatively impacts on the quality of the service they provide, and a further 83% stating that it leads to inconsistent support for people experiencing homelessness.
We asked our members to contact their MPs by email and twitter, asking for them to write to the Chancellor to ensure the budget provided sufficient long term funding for the sector. Thank you to everyone who took part, ensuring that decision makers heard directly from homelessness organisations.
The government announced plans to spend £2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the next three years, amounting to an investment of approx. £630m per year in 2022/23 and 2023/24 before rising to £639m in 2024/25. This 2024/25 figure represents an 85% increase when compared to 2019/20 levels (pre-pandemic), but a £110m reduction in spend on the current financial year.
This falls short of our calls to match the enhanced pandemic investment in rough sleeping - a £132.5 million annual boost through to 2024/25, compared to 2021/22. Simply put, this means that local areas will not be funded enough to maintain the emergency provision that made all the difference in so many people’s lives since the outbreak of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, this is a serious blow to the many services and local authorities hoping to build on this platform for a new way forward, and for a decent offer for excluded non-UK nationals this winter and beyond.
However, we remain hopeful that the marked increase on pre-pandemic investment and clear emphasis on cross-departmental working represent a reaffirmation of commitments to end rough sleeping. Crucially, we will continue to call on Government to ensure that the three-year funding commitment translates through to long-term grants to local areas under the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), bringing much-needed stability to services currently struggling to plan or retain staff on short-term contracts.
What is the Comprehensive Spending Review?
This is when the Treasury discusess and then announces the budgets for government departments – setting out what the public can expect from each in the years ahead.
Government departments send details of their estimated budgets to the Treasury for discussion. Interest groups, individuals or representative bodies can submit a response to the review as well. Individual homelessness organisations are also able to submit a response, which can be done here. Homeless Link has submitted a response on behalf of our members.
Homeless Link’s top line asks were:
Match enhanced investment in rough sleeping services during COVID-19 with a £132.5 million annual boost to the Rough Sleeping Initiative through to 2024/25, compared to 2021/22 levels. Deliver this through a simplified and long-term, guaranteed grant programme to local authorities.
Commit £150.3 million annually for an initial three years for a national Housing First programme, led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), but with cross-departmental investment and stewardship.
Commit to a ten-year investment plan to realise the 90,000 social rent homes that England needs per year.
Unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance so that it continues to cover at least the 30th percentile of local rents