St Mungo’s responds to Housing Committee report examining Government’s efforts to protect renters and people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has described as ‘considered and thoughtful’ a new report by the influential Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.

Published today (31 March), the report entitled ‘Protecting the homeless and the private rented sector: MHCLG’s response to Covid-19’, examined how the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the protections it offered to private renters and people experiencing homelessness.

The report was compiled following a series of evidence sessions which included contributions from St Mungo’s clients and staff.

It recommends the Government should:

  • Issue clear guidance to local authorities stating that they can and should use their legal powers under the Local Government Act 1972 and NHS Act 2006 to find accommodation for those otherwise ineligible for support during a public health emergency
  • Establish a cross-Government task force to resolve the conflict between the commitment to end rough sleeping and the current policy on the no recourse to public funds condition
  • Publish an exit plan for the private rented sector from national and local restrictions
  • Deliver a specific financial package to support tenants to repay rent arrears caused by Covid-19, in consultation with the Local Government Association and appropriate bodies representing renters and landlords

St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE, said: “This is a considered and thoughtful piece of work which drew on evidence from all areas of the sector. We are especially pleased that the Committee sought the contributions of people with lived experience of homelessness during the pandemic including two of our clients Tracey and ‘T’.

“The report’s recommendations are bold but deliverable. They echo several issues that we have highlighted – especially in connection with the ban on evictions. The report also recognises the significant link between homelessness and ill health.

“We know that to prevent more people becoming homeless when the eviction ban ends, action must be taken now and a plan put in place for the future.

“We back the call to establish a cross-Government task force to resolve the conflict between the commitment to end rough sleeping and the current policy on no recourse to public funds, which we see as counter-productive to addressing complex situations for people who are non-UK nationals, which includes many people with settled status.”

The report publication comes a week after the launch of the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping.

Chaired by Lord Kerslake, and with Bob Blackman MP on the Advisory Board, the independent Commission will look at what lessons can be learned from the response to the pandemic.

Mr Douglas, who is advising the Commission, said: “This report will certainly feed into the work of the Commission, which has the remit to understand what made the response to rough sleeping so effective during the pandemic.

“It is reassuring to see that the Housing Committee and the Commission are aligned in the belief that if we do take the learning and are bold, the Government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping can be achieved.”