This week we launched a new report at a reception in Parliament as part of our Home for Good campaign. St Mungo’s Chief Executive Howard Sinclair outlined to MPs, peers, partners and clients attending what we believe it will take to end rough sleeping. This is his speech.
Thank you to everyone for coming, especially to our speakers and our host Bob Blackman MP. And a special thanks to Kevin who has already done so much to support our Home for Good campaign. Your story and enthusiasm has truly inspired us to be ambitious about the changes we want to see.
And our Home for Good campaign is ambitious. It’s a campaign for more social housing, a more secure and affordable private rented sector and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services.
These are the changes needed to put an end to rough sleeping. An end to people sleeping outside, exposed not just to the elements, but to violence and abuse, falling quickly into a state of despair and desperation that comes from not having a safe place to call home.
St Mungo’s services work to end rough sleeping for these very individuals every day by:
- Getting a roof over people’s heads
- Supporting them to address the issues that led to homelessness
- Helping them to make a journey of recovery from the damage rough sleeping causes
- And ultimately helping them to rebuild their lives.
Kevin’s story, and the stories of many others, encourage us to be ambitious for individuals knowing that with the right help, rough sleeping is not inevitable.
The tragic return of mass rough sleeping in recent years is something no one should take lightly. Today more people than ever are not only stuck on the streets, but are dying on the streets. Since our reception last year, at least 449 people are known to have died while sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation.
The Government has been clear about its ambition of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027, and it is encouraging to see the efforts made since our last Parliamentary reception to start work on achieving that ambition. For the opposition parties, as well, rough sleeping and homelessness is high on their agenda.
The publication of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy, including the funding for the Rough Sleeping Initiative, are very welcome steps. We know the Rough Sleeping Initiative money is making a difference in this respect. But as Kevin’s story shows, the right accommodation and support also need to be in place to help people stay off the streets.
The report we’re launching today highlights the long term value of floating support, which is not always visible like a hostel in the local community, but does a vital job of helping people hang onto their homes.
Our report also presents new evidence that funding for services which prevent and reduce homelessness is slipping away at a much faster rate than the Government is topping it up. The report includes new research showing an 18% reduction in funding for floating support services over the past five years in the areas with the highest numbers of people sleeping rough, in London the funding has reduced by 41%.
And it’s an ever greater challenge in many towns and cities to help people find the secure, safe and affordable housing they need in order to rebuild their lives away from the street for good.
Ten years of steady dis-investment in services, in housing and in support has lead us to this position, we know how to sort it but we cannot do it overnight.
The short term Rough Sleeping Initiative is welcome – but it is ‘short term’. Next year’s Spending Review presents a real opportunity to inject some certainty into the Government’s plan to end rough sleeping. It is an opportunity to tackle the structural factors driving more people onto the street.
I am clear that the number of people sleeping rough tonight across the country is a national disaster. 4,751 people on any one night, 4,751 people without any roof over their head. And in a disaster situation we would expect an emergency relief response, as well as a coming together of public authorities and civil society to provide the long-term solution. We would also expect, that as a society, we would strive to ensure it never happened again.
The Government has rightly focused on the emergency response, but we also need the focus on long-term housing and support, and on preventing people sleeping rough in the first place.
That’s why our Home for Good campaign makes three asks; more social housing, including specialist housing specifically for people moving on from rough sleeping; a more secure and affordable private rented sector; and a new programme of long-term, guaranteed funding for homelessness services.
That’s what it will take to end rough sleeping and that’s what we look forward to seeing as the next steps to achieve the Government’s ambition to end rough sleeping for good.
Support our Home for Good campaign to end rough sleeping for good.