England has one of the lowest rough sleeping rates in the world thanks to government strategy

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England now has one of the lowest rough sleeping rates in the world thanks to significant action taken by the government, which has driven a 43% drop in rough sleeping since 2019 and rough sleeping has fallen to an 8-year low.

However, even more people living on the streets will soon be given tailored support to rebuild their lives under further government plans set out today (3 September 2022) and to end rough sleeping.

The Rough Sleeping Strategy is backed by £2 billion and builds on the significant action already taken by the government, which has driven a 43% drop in rough sleeping since 2019 and rough sleeping has fallen to an eight year low. As a result, England has now one of the lowest rough sleeping rates in the world.

In this year’s Spending Review we announced we are spending £2 billion over the course of this parliament to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness – today’s strategy sets the key funding allocations, totalling £764 million.

This includes up to £500 million over three years for the Rough Sleeping Initiative, which this year will help provide 14,000 beds for rough sleepers and 3,000 staff to provide tailored support across England. This includes helping individuals find work, manage their finances and access mental and physical health services.

An extra 2,400 long-term supported homes for those with the most complex needs, including young people, will also be provided, through our new £200 million Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme. This is on top of 3,200 homes that have already been delivered.

To break the cycle of addiction and rough sleeping, the government is also expanding its Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant programme to an additional 20 areas in England, bringing the total to 83. The scheme provides funding for substance misuse treatment services for people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough.

The government has a manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping in this parliament. This means rough sleeping is prevented wherever possible and, where it cannot be prevented, it is a rare, brief and non-recurring experience.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark said:

Ending rough sleeping in this parliament is an important manifesto commitment.

We’ve made great strides towards that goal in the last few years, and today’s strategy backed by £2 billion of support will give some of the most vulnerable people in our society a roof over their heads and targeted support so they can rebuild their lives.

The full weight of government is behind this very necessary pledge and this landmark strategy will give us the right tools to identify people at risk of rough sleeping earlier and provide the help they need.

Minister for Rough Sleeping Eddie Hughes said:

No one should have to sleep on our streets and our strategy will help make that a reality.

We will pull every lever at our disposal so councils, working hand in hand with the voluntary, faith and community sectors, can intervene swiftly when someone is sleeping rough.

When I worked at YMCA Birmingham, I saw first-hand how the right support can help people turn their life around. We’re making great progress and this strategy is hugely important step towards ending rough sleeping for good.

The government is also extending the Housing First Pilots in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool, which give homeless people with multiple and complex needs access to independent long-term housing as a secure and stable platform from which other issues can be addressed.

Thousands of prison leavers at risk of homelessness will also be helped into rental accommodation as part of an expanded government scheme designed to reduce reoffending and tackle rough sleeping.

The second phase of the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders programme – to be launched later this year as part of this strategy – will help councils provide rental deposits, landlord incentives and dedicated support staff.

It builds on the 2021/22 scheme, which helped 145 councils across England and Wales provide the much-needed support. With prison leavers without a stable home around 50% more likely to reoffend, the scheme will help cut crime by reducing the number of prison leavers ending up homeless so that they have the foundation to get a job and access treatment for addictions.

And the government is helping to put night shelters on a more secure and stable footing by increasing the variety and quality of services so they can be relied on for the long term.

To improve transparency and accountability for the mission to end rough sleeping, the government will publish quarterly data showing progress.

Finally, as part of our support we are repealing the outdated Vagrancy Act as no-one should be criminalised simply for having nowhere to live. However, to ensure we don’t weaken the ability of police to protect the public and communities from crime and anti-social behaviour we are considering bringing forward new legislation, while also embedding rehabilitation and support at the heart of our approach.

Interim CEO at St Mungo’s homeless charity 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.

Currently there is a significant gap in supported accommodation for people with complex needs and the announcement of an extra 2,400 homes in particular, is a step forward to helping people sustain a life away from the streets.

Actions introduced today include:

Rough Sleeping Initiative

The Rough Sleeping Initiative is the government’s flagship programme to drive the manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping. Up to £500 million will help provide emergency beds, off-the-street accommodation and wrap-around support.

Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme

The Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, announced in 2020, is backed by up to £433 million over the lifetime of this parliament. This funding will provide up to 6,000 homes for rough sleepers. Once in their new home, rough sleepers will be supported by specialist staff to access the help they need, such as support for mental health and substance abuse problems, moving towards training and work.

From the total budget of the programme, £39.4 million will continue the work of providing a roof over people’s heads and the support they need to sustain it.

Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme

Many areas need more accommodation with suitable support for adults experiencing multiple disadvantage, both long-term and good quality hostel accommodation, as well as specialist accommodation for young people (under 25) who are already experiencing rough sleeping or are at risk.

This is why the government is introducing the Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP), a new £200 million fund, which will deliver up to 2,400 homes by March 2025, including supported housing and Housing First accommodation, and accommodation for young people at risk of homelessness, including rough sleeping.

Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant

Since 2020/21 the Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant has provided £50 million for substance misuse treatment services for people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough. This includes evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment and wraparound support to improve access to treatment, including for people with additional mental health needs.

The government will provide extra investment of up to £186.5 million over the spending review period, expanding these vital services to 20 more areas, bringing the total to 83 areas and 5 pan-London projects. This includes an investment of £15 million announced as part of the cross-government Drug Strategy.

Housing First Pilots

Housing First supports homeless people with multiple and complex needs to access and maintain independent housing. Unlike traditional ‘staircase’ or ‘treatment first’ approaches, it places people directly in independent long-term settled housing, with personalised, flexible and non-time-limited support. This gives people choice and control over both their housing and the support they receive – secure housing offers a stable platform from which other issues can addressed, rather than setting preconditions such as being ‘housing ready’ or participating in treatment.

We are extending our Housing First Pilots in the West Midlands, Manchester, and Liverpool, providing a further £13.9 million over 2 years on top of the £28 million already invested.

Voluntary, Community and Frontline Sector programme

Up to £7.3 million will ensure local rough sleeping services have the tools they need to end rough sleeping and develop prevention services to stop people arriving on the streets in the first place.

We will revitalise this initiative, which enables people to connect local services with somebody they see sleeping rough, with new investment to improve the website and make it more user friendly.

Transparency and data-led Framework

We are committed to ending rough sleeping – this means rough sleeping will be prevented wherever possible or, where it cannot be prevented, be a rare, brief and non-recurring experience. In practice this approach, developed in consultation with experts at the Centre for Homelessness Impact, means more effective support to prevent rough sleeping from happening in the first place, and a tailored offer of support where it does, so people can build an independent life off the streets.

To hold the government and local leaders to account and measure progress, we will publish quarterly data to set out how the government and its partners are delivering on this mission.

Night Shelter Transformation Fund

Help for faith and community groups to develop night shelter services, to expand high-quality single-room accommodation and move-on support for rough sleepers. DLUHC will work with Homeless Link and Housing Justice to help organisations, with up to £10 million of funding across 2022-2025.

This fund aims to transform the sector for the long term, with a wider range of services, partner organisations on a firmer footing and less reliance on government funding to meet core costs.

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