The Kerslake Commission on rough sleeping has published its second and final report, calling on the government to “act now or risk a surge in homelessness”.
The commission’s conclusions show why the government’s Spending Review should boost investment in local services, according to London Councils, which represents London’s 32 boroughs and the City of London Corporation.
Welcoming the report, London Councils highlighted that multi-year homelessness funding grants are needed to help local authorities plan longer-term service provision and use resources as effectively as possible.
The cross-party group also said it supports the report’s conclusion that a range of frontline local services – including welfare and immigration, mental health, substance misuse, and housing advice – all play an important role in tackling rough sleeping and homelessness and require adequate funding.
Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for Housing and Planning – and a member of the commission – said: “This report sets out clearly, comprehensively, and constructively the action required to end rough sleeping altogether.
“London is at the epicentre of this crisis. We face the highest rates of rough sleeping and homelessness in the country and boroughs are determined to do everything we can to address this.
“The success of the Everyone In initiative showed how quickly change can happen thanks to effective partnerships and adequate government funding.
“Now we need longer-term commitments from the government to boost local services and empower us to achieve our shared ambitions.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) has also welcomed the commission’s conclusions, agreeing that cross-sector collaboration is needed to alleviate homelessness.
James Jamieson, chair of the LGA, 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.”
Jamieson continued: “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.”
‘At a crossroads’
Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations, has backed the reports recommendations, in particular the call for more funding, and certainty of funding, from the government.
CEO Rick Henderson said: “The Kerslake commission has pulled together expertise from across the homelessness sector.
“We speak on behalf of our 900 members in welcoming these recommendations which speak clearly of the changes in policy and practice that are required for the government to meet its target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.
“The successes of the rough sleeping pandemic response have been well documented, but now it’s clear from this report that we find ourselves at a crossroads.
“Many homeless organisations are struggling to navigate a precarious environment characterised by insecure, short-term funding, affecting the quality of services they can offer to people experiencing homelessness.
“The coming spending review represents an opportunity for government to build on the successes of the past year and a half.
“Properly investing in the sector through a simplified, multi-year funding programme, whilst looking to the longer-term solutions, like Housing First, which we know are effective in ending homelessness for good, would go a long way in helping it meet its 2024 target.”
The Kerslake Commission on rough sleeping, chaired by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake, was convened in March 2021 to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic.
It was the aim of the commission to also understand how the significant progress made during the government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative could be embedded in the longer term.
The commission was made up of an influential group of 21 political leaders; experts from the health, housing, and homelessness sectors; and people with lived experience.
The secretariat function was provided by homelessness charity St Mungo’s.
Image: William Perugini/Shutterstock
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