St Mungo’s backs Kerslake Commission’s call for further urgent action to prevent homelessness crisis this winter

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the publication of the latest report from the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, and backed its call for the Government to take urgent action to stop the economic crisis becoming a homelessness crisis.

Today (21 September) the report entitled A New Way of Working: Ending Rough Sleeping Together – Progress Report, September 2022 has been published.

The Commission – chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake – is an independent group of 36 experts from health, housing and homelessness, including people with lived experience as well as representatives from local and national government. The secretariat function is provided by St Mungo’s.

The new report tracks the progress made against The Commission’s original recommendations grading them as green, amber or red and also provides an updated set of recommendations that reflect the impact of the current cost of living crisis.

These include calls for the Government to act urgently and:

  • Reintroduce a temporary ban on evictions, as seen during the pandemic, to ensure that no one is made homeless as a result of the cost of living crisis and mirroring what has been announced in Scotland.
  • Increase the benefit cap and bring benefits in line with inflation immediately – not in April 2023 as planned.
  • Raise local housing allowances so that they are in in line with the bottom 30% of the market.

Analysis of The Commission’s original recommendations shows that 27% have been classified as ‘green’ meaning they have been met.

Responding to the report, St Mungo’s Interim Chief Executive Rebecca Sycamore, said: “We are once again happy to support the excellent work of the Commission. When it was convened it was always intended to have longevity and not to produce reports that just sit on a shelf gathering dust but which provide practical and achievable recommendations to help to end rough sleeping.

“As a leading provider of frontline homelessness services we see every day the very real and very harsh reality of this financial crisis.

“And with more price increases, and the colder weather coming, it is very likely many of those currently just scraping by will no longer be able to manage, and could be at real risk of losing their homes.

“In order to prevent this from becoming a homelessness crisis action is needed now – and we fully support the new recommendations made by the Commission and urge Liz Truss and her ministers to introduce these measures as a matter of urgency to prevent more people ending up homeless this winter.”

The report contains several personal testimonies from people who have experienced homelessness and are now living semi-independently and who are managing their own finances.

Stacey* is a client of St Mungo’s and is currently part of the charity’s Housing First scheme in London.

She explained how the increase in the cost of living is affecting her, saying: “I think about money all the time and I am always looking for yellow sticker reduced items. I go to Peckham Pantry to get more for my money.

“Last week I was offered a flat from the Council and I am viewing it next week. Although I am really happy and excited that I am moving to my first home, I have already worked out I can’t afford to have the heating and electric and will just live in one room over winter and buy an electric blanket as it will be cheaper than having the heating on.

“I have already planned to apply for an emergency support grant to get heavy blankets and warm clothes.

“It’s not nice having to live and plan my life like this as it constantly feels hopeless and trapped. I think what will be the cheapest way to buy and cook food, I tend to eat one main meal a day.”

The Kerslake Commission convened in March 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 can be embedded in the longer term.

It has previously published two reports, one in July 2021 and one in September 2021. A further progress report will be published in 2023.