On 9 August, I announced that housing benefit will remain in place to fund supported housing, alongside publication of the Government’s response to the October 2017 consultations on possible alternative funding options. We also announced that we will not be pursuing the sheltered rent model. This demonstrates our commitment to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, by ensuring vital services are in place.
I am also keen to work with providers, local authorities, membership bodies and resident representatives to develop a robust oversight regime, to ensure quality and value for money across the sector. Alongside this enhanced oversight, my Department will undertake a review of housing related support in order to better understand how housing and support fit together.
Taken together, this gives the sector the confidence they need to continue to invest in supply.
On 13 August, I announced a cross-Government rough sleeping strategy setting out the first steps towards achieving our commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027. This builds upon the work of the rough sleeping initiative announced in March, and set outs the further action we will take to support those currently sleeping rough.
To develop the strategy my Department has worked across Government through the rough sleeping and homelessness reduction taskforce, and with the homelessness sector and local areas through the rough sleeping advisory panel, to set out our long-term vision for how both local and central government will work together to build a country where no one needs to sleeps rough again.
The strategy is based around three core pillars: prevent, intervene and recover, with a focus on moving to a “rapid rehousing” approach. Taken together with initiatives my Department had already committed to prior to publishing this strategy, this represents over £150 million of funding dedicated to reducing rough sleeping over the next two years. In addition, we confirmed additional funding for health services for people sleeping rough. We will refresh the strategy on an annual basis, setting out the progress we have made and ensuring that our interventions remain relevant and targeted. We are also developing a delivery plan, to be published in the autumn.
We will prevent rough sleeping by providing timely support to those at risk by, for example:
piloting suitable accommodation and tailored for those leaving prison so they do not end up on the streets;
researching the nature and scale of LGBT homelessness to determine what measures need to be put in place to prevent this;
ensuring that local authorities investigate rough sleeper deaths to understand and tackle the root causes; and
implementing the duty to refer on certain public bodies as part of the Homelessness Reduction Act, to ensure that more people get the help they need faster.
We will intervene to help people already on the street get swift, targeted support by, for example:
rolling out a new initiative, Somewhere Safe to Stay, to help up to 6,000 people who are new to the streets or vulnerable to rough sleeping, offering support to rapidly identify issues that led them to sleeping rough;
introducing “navigators”—specialists who will act as trusted confidantes—who will help people sleeping rough access the appropriate services and accommodation;
providing up to £30 million for health services for people sleeping rough, informed by the findings of a health provision audit to be carried out this year; and
providing training for frontline staff on how to best help people under the influence of Spice, those who are victims of domestic abuse, modern slavery, as well as how best to support homeless LGBT people.
We will help people recover, find a new home quickly and rebuild their lives by, for example:
providing affordable accommodation for those leaving hostels and domestic abuse refuges, and to support them in managing this accommodation;
investing money from dormant bank accounts into housing for those on the streets or at risk of rough sleeping;
launching a new fund to help up to 5,000 former rough sleepers and those at risk to sustain their tenancies by working with them to boost financial independence and access training and employment opportunities; and
launching a £50 million fund for homes outside London for people ready to move on from hostels or refuges but need additional support.
We recognise that this is a challenging commitment but are confident this strategy will pave the way towards achieving our 2027 vision. We are clear, however, that this is just the first step.
The rough sleeping strategy was laid before Parliament on 13 August (Cm 9685).