Leading Homelessness Charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the recommendations of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping describing them as ‘practical and achievable’.
The charity is backing the call for politicians and the health, housing and homelessness sectors to now implement the Kerslake Commission’s findings which are included in its A new way of working: ending rough sleeping together report published today (23 September).
The independent Kerslake Commission, chaired by the former head of the civil service, Lord Bob Kerslake, was convened in March 2021 to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic, and to understand how the significant progress made can be embedded in the longer term.
Composed of an influential group of 21 political leaders, experts from the health, housing and homelessness sectors, including people with lived experience, the Commission analysed the cross-sector response to Covid-19, and the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, launched in March 2020.
The secretariat support to the Commission was undertaken by St Mungo’s with its Chief Executive, Steve Douglas CBE, providing advice and support to Lord Kerslake and the Advisory Board.
The final report – which incorporates the findings of the Commission’s Interim Report published in July – makes 12 recommendations, the key points of which are:
- The Government, through its new Inter-Ministerial Group on rough sleeping, should set out its overarching vision, by developing a longer-term rough sleeping strategy which builds on the successes of Everyone In and the lessons learnt. And that this Group, through the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, should report annually on its performance
- The £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift, which made such a positive difference to those who could barely afford their homes before the pandemic, and therefore helping them to avoid the threat of imminent rough sleeping should be maintained
- Increasing joint working by all agencies and organisations involved with homelessness by extending the Homelessness Reduction Act’s Duty to Refer, to make it a Duty to Collaborate with relevant public agencies, including health, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice, to both prevent and respond to homelessness
- Ensuring that the quality of accommodation provided to those who are homeless and vulnerable is safe, decent and appropriate, by introducing a Quality Assurance framework for homelessness accommodation, with a national register that requires evidence that providers are meeting minimum standards as a condition of registration
- Helping to ensure that non-UK nationals who are sleeping rough, or at risk of doing so, have some protection, by establishing a clear policy position that limiting access to benefits for non UK nationals should stop short of causing destitution
- Reducing the reliance on communal shelters through Local Authorities, in partnership with homelessness organisations, by improving planning in relation to extreme cold or severe heat – and other emergencies – and the provision for people sleeping rough during these times
The report will be officially launched at an event at the Headquarters of the Local Government Association this afternoon, which will be attended by politicians and leading experts in the homelessness and health sectors, including those with lived experience of homelessness.
St Mungo’s Chief Executive, Steve Douglas CBE, said: “We at St Mungo’s are proud to have been able to support The Kerslake Commission as secretariat and we thank all the experts involved who have been so generous with their time and expertise; especially those with lived experience – including St Mungo’s clients – whose contribution has been so key to this work; and to Lord Kerslake for his expert chairing.
“This is an excellent report and reflects what we have seen since Everyone In was launched including the unprecedented collaboration between so many different agencies which has made a real difference to people’s lives.
“It has a practical set of recommendations which we believe are deliverable. And we will be liaising with our partners about how we can take them forward.
“We believe that when we work together we can make a real difference, and this report and its recommendations represent a genuine opportunity to help end rough sleeping for good.”
St Mungo’s client and member of the Kerslake Commission’s Advisory Board, Taishon Jones, said: “The work the Commission did to include and reflect the experience of people who have been homeless was so important.
“There’s nothing better than hearing the human experiences of people that go through this every single day.
“It’s easy to look on a computer, check metrics and statistics, calculate different things, but there’s nothing like actually speaking to the people and finding out exactly what they need and how to help them – especially when we were speaking to people from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, races and religions.
“There are so many different aspects of homelessness and it’s vital that is reflected. Moving forward, we need to continue to involve people, and give them a voice and let them be heard – as they are in this report.”
The Kerslake Commission received more than 100 evidence submissions from Local Authorities, from people with lived experience of homelessness and of sleeping rough, as well as from health, housing and homelessness organisations. It also commissioned two literature reviews into the emergency response.
To find out more about the work of the Commission visit www.commissiononroughsleeping.org