Budget reaction: Welcome news for people sleeping on the streets but long term protection for supported housing needed

16 March 2016

 In today’s Budget, the Chancellor announced new funding to tackle homelessness:

•    £100 million to deliver low-cost ‘second stage’ accommodation for rough sleepers leaving hostel accommodation and domestic abuse victims and their families moving on from refuges. This will provide at least 2,000 places to enable independent living for vulnerable households and individuals, freeing up hostels and refuges for those in most acute need
•    £10 million over two years to support and scale up innovative ways to prevent and reduce rough sleeping, particularly in London, building on the success of the No Second Night Out initiative
•    double the funding for the Rough Sleeping Social Impact Bond announced at the Autumn Statement 2015 from £5 million to £10 million, to drive innovative ways of tackling entrenched rough sleeping, including ‘Housing First’ approaches
•    Action to increase the number of rough sleeping EU migrants returning to their home countries. Building on the success of the Operation Adoze pilot, the government will roll out a new approach in which immigration officials work with Local Authorities and outreach workers to connect rough sleepers to services that can return them home

Howard Sinclair, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, said: “We are pleased the Chancellor has listened to and acted on representations about the rise in rough sleeping. Today’s announcement is welcome news for people sleeping on the streets and those at risk of homelessness.

“Rough sleeping is harmful and dangerous and costs lives. The new funding announced today will help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. We now need the Prime Minister to lead a cross government strategy to end rough sleeping. People sleeping rough is not inevitable. It is time to stop the scandal of rough sleeping.

“We hope the investment in preventing rough sleeping means more projects like No First Night Out to stop people from being turned away when they ask for help from their council. This should be accompanied by improvements to homelessness legislation to prevent more people from sleeping rough.

“Four in ten people who sleep rough have a mental health problem and from our research, we know they are stuck on the streets for longer. We urge the government to take specific action to reduce the number of people with mental health problems who sleep rough, including investment in specialist teams to coordinate and carry out mental health assessments and support for people sleeping rough, on the street if necessary.

“The Budget also highlights important work to reconnect rough sleepers from outside the UK with services in their home countries when this is their best option. It is essential that the most vulnerable rough sleepers get the best offer of support to help them off the street for good.

“The investment in 2,000 accommodation places for people moving on from hostels is much needed to help free up places for those in greater need, including those currently sleeping rough. We look forward to working on developing the detail with government to ensure the investment delivers the right type of accommodation, in the right places.  

“We are also pleased the government has recognised the importance of supported housing and urge ministers to work with the sector to put in place proper, long term protection for this specialist type of accommodation. Without this, efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness will be wasted.”

Last month, St Mungo’s launched its Stop the Scandal Campaign to drive action on rough sleeping and mental health. The campaign report Stop the Scandal: An investigation into mental health and rough sleeping found that four in ten rough sleepers have a mental health problem, rising to over half of rough sleepers from the UK. In addition, rough sleepers with a mental health problem end up on the streets for longer.

St Mungo’s is urging campaigners to take action and write to Prime Minister David Cameron at www.mungos.org/stopthescandal

ENDS

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