Government is in danger of causing irreparable damage to homeless services

25 June 2017

The Government is in danger of causing irreparable damage to supported housing for homeless people said St Mungo’s today as the charity launched its new campaign, Save Hostels Rebuild Lives.

St Mungo’s is asking people to sign a petition that urges the Government to think again on plans that will reform the way that hostels for homeless people are funded, potentially leaving vulnerable people at risk of rough sleeping.

The number of people sleeping rough in England has increased by 134% in the last five years. According to latest statistics, 4,134 people sleep rough on any one night. Four in ten rough sleepers have a mental health problem and they are at great risk of violence and abuse.

Supported housing projects such as hostels give people with complex or multiple physical and mental health needs a safe place to stay and the help they need to help them to recover from homelessness and rebuild their lives.

A Government Green Paper will outline how supported housing projects will be funded in the future and the St Mungo’s petition is urging the Government to ensure that services are not put at further risk in this latest funding change.

Analysis by the National Audit Office showed that funding for housing related support fell by 45% between 2010/11 and 2014/15.

Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “Homelessness is not inevitable. By providing a safe place to stay and specialist support, our supported housing projects help people to recover from homelessness and rebuild their lives away from the streets.

“Cuts in local authority funding and the Government’s decision not to exempt hostels from the reduction in rents already puts these services under great strain.

“The changes the Government is proposing now could cause irreparable damage and may ultimately lead to a loss of services at a time when rough sleeping is on the rise.

“The Government needs to give this important issue the time it deserves and work with the sector to develop a sustainable new funding system that protects these vital services, so we can continue to help people to get off the streets for good.”

Rob (42), is a former resident of a St Mungo’s hostel in West London and had been homeless on and off for 20 years. He said: “The keywork was incredible – there was a plan put in action within two days of me moving in that was monitored. It was like ‘this is what you want to achieve, these are your goals’, so I kept being refreshed – ‘look, this is what you want to do.’

“When I had nothing, everything I wanted I had to put onto paper, and they’d make sure that I would achieve that. I got my debts cleared, I got rehoused, I got my benefits sorted out, all these little things build those pages, and before you know, it turns into the book. I would say it was more than a foundation, they showed me how to be a person again.”

According to the Save Hostels Rebuild Lives campaign report and research by the National Housing Federation there was a shortfall of 16,692 places in supported housing for working-age people in 2015/16, at an estimated cost of £361 million to the taxpayer.

Looking specifically at supported housing for single homeless people, Homeless Link found that offering women and men at risk of homelessness a safe and supported place to stay saves an estimated £6,703 per person per year by reducing costs to health, social care and criminal justice services.

St Mungo’s Save Hostels Rebuild Lives campaign is urging the Secretary of State for Communities, and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to:

  1. Develop a sustainable and secure new funding system that helps vulnerable people get off the streets for good.
  2. Introduce a legal requirement for local authorities to assess need and plan for appropriate supported housing provision in their area.
  3. Ensure that the system is fully transparent and accountable to central government.

Sign our petition to Save Hostels Rebuild Lives at www.mungos.org/savehostels

Follow news about the campaign on Twitter @StMungos or Facebook StMungosUK

Full campaign report can be found at: http://www.mungos.org/documents/7587/7587.pdf

Press Contact: Charlotte Cohen, Press and PR Officer, on 020 3856 6126 or charlotte.cohen@mungos.org