Dear Home Secretary,

We write to you as members of key organisations within the homelessness, housing and refugee sectors to express our deepest concerns about current Government practices which are causing unprecedented levels of homelessness, including rough sleeping, among newly granted refugees.

The Government’s own target was to end rough sleeping by 2024. Yet Government statistics show that from July to December 2023 there was a 965.91% increase in people sleeping rough over the course of a month who had left asylum support in the previous 85 days. In July there were 42 people found to be sleeping rough who had left asylum support in the previous 85 days. By December this number had reached 469. We know the total number of people being made homeless is much higher, and that people are also sleeping in churches, stations or on the floor of hotel rooms of other people seeking asylum.

Government policy is contributing to further rough sleeping rather than preventing it. This is avoidable.

We welcome the extra decision-making that is enabling people seeking asylum to receive outcomes on their asylum claims. But the drive to close hotels is pushing newly granted refugees onto the streets, where local authorities and the charity sector are having to step in without sufficient funding or resources to address this issue, and the experience of homelessness will make accessing employment and housing harder.

There are specific, targeted and easily implementable changes to policy and process which could avoid the human misery of forcing newly granted refugees onto the streets, save money across the system, and help end rough sleeping rather than feed it. None of this would work against the ambition of ending the use of hotels for people seeking asylum.

We therefore urge you to take the following immediate actions to help tackle this altogether preventable homelessness:

Rough sleeping is a terrible and perverse outcome of people being granted leave to remain in the UK. We want to work in partnership with your department to avoid this happening. We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Emma Haddad, Chief Executive, St Mungo’s

Matt Downie, Chief Executive, Crisis

Polly Neate, Chief Executive, Shelter

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive, Refugee Council

Phil Kerry, Chief Executive, New Horizon Youth Centre

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive, The Passage

Sally Daghlian, Chief Executive, Praxis

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, National Housing Federation

Bill Tidnam, Chief Executive, Thames Reach

Rick Henderson, Chief Executive, Homeless Link

Kathy Mohan, Chief Executive, Housing Justice

Alex Bax, Chief Executive, Pathway

Jean Templeton, Chief Executive, St Basils

Bridget Young, Director, NACCOM

Carly Whyborn, Interim Executive Director, Refugees at Home

Sal Copley, Executive Director of Communications and External Affairs, British Red Cross

 

Cc. Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP; Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness, Felicity Buchan MP; Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP; Minister of State for Countering Illegal Migration, Michael Tomlinson KC MP; Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border, Tom Pursglove MP.