The 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review – scheduled for October 2021 gives us a vital opportunity to ensure that ending rough sleeping, something the Conservatives pledged to deliver by the end of this parliament, doesn’t slip from the agenda. This review will set government departmental budgets over the next three years. Homeless Link’s submission to the Review makes the case for what is needed to ensure the government keeps its promise.
‘Everyone In' showed how effective universal, unconditional support is in tackling homelessness, uniting organisations and driving innovation. But the temporary housing solutions offered to many were, by definition, temporary.
Along with the continued fall out of the pandemic, the end of the Universal Credit uplift, end of furlough and closure of many Everyone In schemes means we are approaching a ‘perfect storm’ that will leave increasing numbers of people facing homelessness. We need a stable, robust homelessness sector to face these challenges and we need long-term commitments from government to ensure progress made is not lost.
You can help ensure that government Ministers don’t forget their pledge to end rough sleeping, please email your MP and ask them to support our submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review. You can find template letters to do this here.
Homeless Link are calling for government to:
- 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.
A recent poll of Homeless Link members showed that 75% of responding members find short-term funding negatively impacts on the quality of their service, and 83% state that it leads to inconsistent support for people experiencing homelessness.
A renewed strategy to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness must provide a long-term, multi-year settlement to enable the development of sustainable and effective services that people can rely upon. The funding must be coordinated, streamlined and cross-departmental, to improve efficiency and reduce the burden on local authorities and services. The government must also sustain its move away from the funding cuts of the past decade.
- Commit £150.3 million annually for an initial three years for a national Housing First programme, led by the DLUHC but with cross-departmental investment and stewardship. Extend the funding commitment to the regional Housing First Pilots for a further three years.
Current provision of high-fidelity Housing First falls far short of need. It's estimated that at least 16,450 Housing First places are needed by people with the most complex needs, but only 1,995 are available. We are calling for a national, cross-departmental Housing First programme, initially funded over the next three years, to roll out and expand Housing First in areas where it is needed. In addition, government should extend their investment in the regional pilots in order to preserve the impressive progress made and protect residents from the approaching funding cliff edge.
- Commit to a ten-year investment plan to realise the 90,000 social rent homes that England needs per year.
A lack of appropriate, affordable housing is one of the biggest causes of homelessness. It can also trap people in homelessness and prevent them from moving on from temporary accommodation. Over the long-term, the most cost-effective means to meet the scale of need for truly affordable homes is through the increased provision of homes for social rent. Research undertaken on behalf of Crisis and the National Housing Federation found that in order to meet the backlog ,90,000 social homes would need to be built a year over a 15-year period.
- Unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) so that it continues to cover at least the 30th percentile of local rents.
It is vital that housing benefit sufficiently covers the cost of private rented accommodation. With evictions having resumed, there are concerns across Homeless Link’s membership that the growth of rent arrears and LHA set at inadequate levels will lead to a potential huge wave of individuals being pushed into homelessness.
In addition to these priorities, our full submission includes crucial measures needed to tackle the needs of young people and women facing homelessness, as well as asks to better support the sector to tackle homelessness among non-UK nationals.