Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the Government’s ambitious new rough sleeping strategy ‘Ending Rough Sleeping for Good’ but says this must not be the end of the story.

The new strategy, published on 3 September 2022, commits £2billion over the next three years to intensify efforts to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. The strategy has a strong focus on prevention and tackling the root causes of homelessness stating that: “no one in our society should have to suffer the injustice of living a life on the streets.”

Interim CEO of St Mungo’s Rebecca Sycamore said: “As a leading homelessness charity we know first-hand how important it is to focus on the root causes of rough sleeping in order to help break that cycle. We deliver a huge range of services to support people out of homelessness and into rebuilding their lives and so welcome this new strategy.

“However this must not be the end of the story. There will need to be a long term commitment to joined up working as well as a recognition that the emerging cost of living crisis could see further people facing destitution if action is not taken to prevent this. A key aspect of our own strategy at St Mungo’s is delivering services around the prevention of homelessness and so that must continue to be a priority.

“It is good to see that this is a joined up piece of work with support from across different Government departments – again this is something that we have been calling for for some time, as only by working together, consistently and over the long term will we be able to make a real step change in ensuring no one has to sleep on our streets.”

The strategy commits to delivering:

Rebecca continued: “For the first time, the strategy defines what successfully ending rough sleeping would look like: that rough sleeping should be prevented where possible, but that where it does occur it should be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

“We have also consistently advocated that rough sleeping needs long-term solutions, particularly through longer term funding, so new funding for the Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme, which will help people to recover from homelessness over time and to rebuild their lives, is a definite step in the right direction.”

A focus on strengthened partnerships, improved employment support, and investment in mental health and drug and alcohol provision are also outlined in the strategy, services which St Mungo’s has long advocated for and already provides to a complex client group.

The introduction of a new national data-led framework to measure progress towards ending rough sleeping, with the promise of regular data publications and improved accountability structures will also enable us to track progress and hold the Government to account on it delivery of the strategy.

“If the comprehensive vision laid out in this strategy is followed through across Government, and backed up with the funding and partnership working required, then we have a real chance to end rough sleeping, something the Government committed to do by 2024 but it cannot be achieved in isolation and without acknowledging the impact of the cost of living crisis will have on society,” Rebecca concluded.