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Govt pledges £100m to end rough sleeping in England

Monday 13 August 2018

AS THE government pledges to commit £100m to ending rough sleeping in England by 2027, Anya Ahmed, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Salford, considers the announcement.

Professor Ahmed has researched homelessness, in particular recently evaluating the impact of the Welsh Assembly’s Housing (Wales) Act.

She said: “This is a welcome move, and is an important recognition that people who are rough sleeping often experience a wide range of problems, but it needs to be seen in the context of austerity.

“Local authority budgets have been decimated over the last eight years, which has had an impact on the available services and support for vulnerable people at risk of homelessness, and this has arguably been at the root of increases in street homelessness since 2010.

“We also need to be cautious about the structural challenges which will potentially compromise the success of this initiative.  Our findings from the post-implementation evaluation of Part 2 of the Housing (Wales) Act provide evidence for this.

Shortage of housing  

“Firstly, there is a shortage of housing, particularly for single people, and relying on the private sector to discharge the local authority homelessness duty is problematic as often people become homeless due to problems in private sector housing.

“There is a good deal of work to be done strategically and operationally between homelessness and other services, such as those dealing with mental health and substance misuse,  to ensure that interventions are coordinated and appropriate.

“Issues with universal credit and the benefit system poses additional challenges for people and potentially put some at risk of being homeless due to reductions in household income. 

“Although this is a positive move it doesn’t address the causes of homelessness but instead deals with its most extreme manifestation – rooflessness and rough sleeping. Homelessness in general is also increasing and this initiative does not address hidden homelessness, overcrowding and increasing numbers of people living in temporary accommodation – the people who could become rough sleepers in the future.”