Without urgent action, the benefits and lessons learned from joint working during the Covid-19 pandemic will be wasted and the number of people having to sleep on the streets will rise again, according to a report released today on homelessness and rough sleeping.
The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping’s final report: A new way of working: ending rough sleeping together comes as pandemic support measures come to an end.
This includes the £20-a-week uplift in Universal Credit and the furlough scheme and this coupled with rises in energy prices, inflation and National Insurance, is likely to put more and more people at risk of homelessness, according to the report.
12 key recommendations are made in the Kerslake Commission’s final report, which it says must be actioned if the positives achieved during the pandemic are not to be lost.
- The government developing a longer-term rough sleeping strategy built on the success of their ‘Everyone In’ policy.
- The maintenance of the £20 Universal Credit uplift.
- Increased joint working by all organisations involved in homelessness by extending the Homelessness Reduction Act’s ‘duty to refer’, to make it a ‘duty to collaborate'.
- Introducing a Quality Assurance Framework for those providing homelessness accommodation.
- Establishing a clear policy position that limiting access to benefits for non-UK nationals should stop short of causing destitution.
- Reducing the reliance on communal shelters through improving planning in relation to extreme cold or severe heat.
Responding to the report, Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), Councillor James Jamieson said:
“Getting thousands of rough sleepers off the streets into safe accommodation at the start of the pandemic was an incredible achievement by councils and this important report sets out key recommendations that can help to prevent a new wave of homelessness.
“As we look to return to normality, it is essential we build on the success of the Everyone In initiative and make sure it is not just a one-off emergency response.
“Supporting those who are vulnerable can only succeed with sector-wide working at a local level, with health, housing associations and the voluntary sector working closely together.
“Councils stand ready to work with government to realise its ambition of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.
“For that to happen, the government must use the forthcoming Spending Review to announce a cross-departmental homelessness prevention strategy.
“This would need to see councils given the long-term funding required to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place, with welfare changes introduced in the pandemic maintained for as long as they are needed, including the Universal Credit uplift.”
The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, was launched in March 2020 and has met four times in total.