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Rough Sleeping Strategy

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government by Command of Her Majesty

1. The government is committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027. Ending rough sleeping will require central and local government, as well as business, communities, faith and voluntary groups and the general public to work together in new ways. This strategy shows the government doing exactly that, as we announce a range of cross-government initiatives which will see us working jointly in new ways, for instance through new health provision for people who sleep rough, and work in prisons to prevent people from sleeping rough in the first place.

2. This strategy sets out our 2027 vision to support every person who sleeps rough off the streets and into a home. This is backed up by £100 million of funding in the next two years but marks just the beginning of our plans to meet our 2027 ambition, when no one has to sleep rough again. Rough sleeping is the most extreme form of homelessness and it is therefore right we take action to help people off the streets now. However, we also recognise that we need to look beyond rough sleeping to ensure the entire system is working to prevent all forms of homelessness. This can be seen in our wider work, for instance we have recently announced measures to ensure the private rented sector delivers secure, safe and affordable homes, which includes proposals for longer, more secure tenancies.

3. We have already been bold in our approach to supporting homeless people by implementing the landmark legislation, the Homelessness Reduction Act. This Act fundamentally changes the way local authorities work to support homeless people in their areas, giving them new prevention responsibilities towards more people.

4. Previous governments have pledged to end rough sleeping before. While they led important work to reduce rough sleeping, we are determined to go further and end it by 2027 to ensure no one has to sleep rough again. This means tackling the issue directly by helping people on the streets now and leading the changes needed across government to stop rough sleeping from occurring in the first place. This will not be easy but it is vital if we are to deliver a country which works for everyone.

5. Ending rough sleeping starts with secure and affordable housing. Successive governments have not built enough homes and the result is a broken housing market. This government is committed to changing this. Since 2010, we have delivered more than a million homes, including 378,000 affordable homes and 273,000 homes for rent. Last year saw the biggest increase in overall housing supply in England for almost a decade: over 217,000 new homes.

6. We are investing £9 billion in affordable housing, including a new generation of council housing. We are giving £1 billion of funding flexibility to help ambitious councils borrow more to build more. We will publish a Social Housing Green Paper which sets out the vital role social housing plays in this country and our plans to build the social housing that is needed to help people get on in life.

7. We also recognise the value of sufficient and good quality supported housing. This is why we have recently announced that we are maintaining Housing Benefit for all supported housing, and will work with the sector on oversight of quality and value for money. This reflects the particular needs of the vulnerable groups of people who access supported housing, and the government’s commitment to get the best possible outcomes for them.

8. Our strategy builds on these policies and the work of the Rough Sleeping Initiative which we announced in March 2018. It is based on the advice and evidence put forward by our expert Advisory Panel and brings all of government together to deliver a new system built around three core pillars: Prevention, Intervention and Recovery. This is a system that has prevention at its heart: it provides timely support to tackle mental health and substance misuse issues, it helps people leaving prison to find sustainable accommodation, and it provides people at risk of rough sleeping with the right support to find work and live independently. If people do find themselves at a crisis point and lose their home, this strategy sets out how they will be helped to find a new home quickly and supported to recover, as part of a new ‘rapid rehousing’ response to rough sleeping.

9. We understand that rough sleeping is an issue that impacts different people and different places in different ways, so our approach is hardwired to recognise this difference. We are providing targeted funding to ensure that provision is in place for women who sleep rough as we recognise mainstream provision does not always meet their needs. This supports a locally driven approach, with local authorities leading the charge.

10. We recognise that there are gaps in our understanding. We are told by the sector that LGBT individuals are more at risk of homelessness and rough sleeping. This is particularly the case among vulnerable young people. We are also told that people who sleep rough can be vulnerable to trafficking and modern slavery. We want to understand this better and we set out measures to address both of these issues in the strategy.

11. This strategy is the beginning of a nine-year policy to ensure no one has to sleep rough again. While it sets out meaningful action that will help people now, it also sets out how we will test different approaches, learn from new evidence and scale up and roll out our programmes.

12. We will provide yearly updates which will show our progress on the manifesto commitment and outline new policies we plan to take forward once the evidence is in place to prove they work. We will also go on to develop a strategy to address wider homelessness and will be outlining our work in that area in the coming months.