John Glenton 13 October 2021

Lessons from Kerslake can help councils avoid surge in homelessness

Lessons from Kerslake can help councils avoid surge in homelessness image

A week after Worlds Homelessness Day, as we approach the winter, the pressures on those at risk of homelessness are increasing.

In July of this year, the founder of The Big Issue, Lord John Bird, said: 'More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory.'

Since then, Conservative peer, John Barwell, has acknowledged the increasing strain on families in the UK. He recently conceded: 'We’ve got the tax increases that they’ve (UK Government) just brought in, we’ve got the Universal Credit reduction, plus rising energy bills...I think there is a real political danger here of cost-of-living issues becoming a real difficulty for the Government.'

Prior to Lord Bird’s warning in 2019/20, a total of 288,470 households were owed homelessness prevention or relief duty by a local authority – `the equivalent of England’s councils dealing with a city of Sheffield becoming homeless every year.

The publication of the final Kerslake report on rough sleeping two weeks ago has underlined the importance of acting quickly to ensure the benefits and lessons learned from the joint working during the pandemic will not be wasted, and the number of people having to sleep on the streets will not rise again this winter.

Everyone In has shown what can be achieved when all partners work together towards a singular shared goal. Whilst the intervention helped many move on into more suitable accommodation (over 37,000) during the pandemic, this does not mean an end to rough sleeping.

Evidence from the Kerslake Commission suggests, without appropriate preventative measures in place, the removal of temporary measures (such as £20 Universal Credit uplift and change to the Local Housing Allowance) means the finances of families will get worse, and homelessness and rough sleeping will ‘surge’.

The rough sleeping strategy and Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI) funding has achieved some excellent results and is an exemplar for policy in action. In its first year RSI funding helped to cut the number of people sleeping on the streets by almost a quarter (23%) in areas which received additional funding, while areas receiving no extra money saw a 41% increase.

One of the central asks identified in the Kerslake report is that Everyone In should continue to be financed by RSI and should have a focus on rough sleeping prevention, outreach, accommodation and support and should pay for an increased supply of self-contained and quality emergency accommodation.

This approach would provide a safety net for those providing invaluable homelessness support services across the UK.

As we look forward, now furlough has ended and the financial pressure on households grows, it is clear that we need to do more to tackle homelessness before it happens.

On the eve of the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget, we want to see Government to reinstate the £1.6bn ring-fenced budget for housing-related support. Homeless Link, similarly, called in their 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review submission for government to invest an extra £1bn a year in services which prevent and end homelessness until 2024.

A long-term approach to tackling homelessness is essential. This approach should include a cross-departmental National Homelessness Strategy by March 2023, led by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, but also involving the Department of Health and Social Care, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Work and Pensions and Office for Veterans’ Affairs, with co-ordination from the Cabinet Office.

As part of this far-sighted approach Kerslake recommends that councils should be expected to produce long-term, integrated homelessness and health strategies and rapid rehousing plans. These plans will require a local assessment of homelessness need which would aim to quantify the level of central funding needed for each area.

Kerslake also recommends that local authorities in partnership with homelessness organisations, should conduct long-term strategic planning for extremes in weather, including both extreme cold and severe heat.

A central theme of the strategy must be partnership working across central, regional and local government and its various delivery agencies. This includes measures to prevent homelessness alongside varied homelessness services such as Housing First, floating support and accommodation-based services.

We strongly believe that a national housing and homeless strategy should be at the very top of the Government’s agenda.

To be effective this strategy must direct resources towards building more social housing and preventing homelessness.

John Glenton is executive director of care and support at Riverside

Skate parks are not the only fruit image

Skate parks are not the only fruit

On Go Skateboarding Day, Susannah Walker asks councils and their leisure and park departments to think differently about what facilities they provide for teenagers.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Clinical Lead, North Essex

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Clinical Lead, North EssexPermanent, Full TimeUp to £57,869 per annumLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director Legal,&Governance/Monitoring Officer

Rochdale BC
£70,340 - £81,589
The Assistant Director role has breadth of responsibility beyond legal services incorporating Constitutional and Democratic Services Rochdale, Greater Manchester
Recuriter: Rochdale BC

Inspector

Cambridgeshire County Council
£28,226 - £30,095
The Street Works Team currently has a vacancy for a Street Works Inspector. Cambridgeshire, Various places-working out of office base.
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Purchase Ledger Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,650 - £20,043
The Revenues Service is looking to recruit a Purchase Ledger Officer to cover maternity leave in our busy Purchase Ledger team. Darby House, Telford
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Specialist Behaviour and Inclusion Keyworker

City of Bradford MDC
£22,129 - £27,514 pa (Pro rata for Part Time Posts)
The role is to support parents/carers to implement changes in behaviour and lifestyle that improve outcomes for children and young people. Based at Specialist Behavioural Services
Recuriter: City of Bradford MDC

Partner Content

Circular highways is a necessity not an aspiration – and it’s within our grasp

Shell is helping power the journey towards a circular paving industry with Shell Bitumen LT R, a new product for roads that uses plastics destined for landfill as part of the additives to make the bitumen.

Support from Effective Energy Group for Local Authorities to Deliver £430m Sustainable Warmth Funded Energy Efficiency Projects

Effective Energy Group is now offering its support to the 40 Local Authorities who have received a share of the £430m to deliver their projects on the ground by surveying properties and installing measures.

Pay.UK – the next step in Bacs’ evolution

Dougie Belmore explains how one of the main interfaces between you and Bacs is about to change.