The government released its strategy to end rough sleeping by 2027. At Wycombe Homeless Connection, we recognise that it is a positive step forward as the government is paying attention to the growing issue of rough sleeping. The proposals were developed by consulting seven homelessness and housing organisations – Crisis, Homeless Link, National Housing Federation, Shelter, St Basils, St Mungo’s and Thames Reach – that are part of the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel.

In the proposals, the government stated that they will use £30 million on mental health help and treatment for substance misuse, and another £50 million to build homes outside London. These proposals help to deal with some of the issues that many rough sleepers could be facing, but what we want to push for is a strategy that will help people in the long run, such as the Housing First approach – a proven method of helping rough sleepers, which has demonstrated high levels of success in other countries.

This strategy is just a beginning and will not solve the homelessness problem on its own. The reason is that rough sleepers are only 2% of the people who are facing homelessness; 50 times more people are living in council temporary accommodation than are sleeping rough. According to the official annual count in Autumn 2017, there were 4,751 people sleeping rough on any one night in England; by the end of 2017, around 220,000 people were in council temporary accommodation; if we include people who are sofa-surfing, the number can easily go up to a million or more!

Click here to understand more about the new strategy.

Responding to the government’s new strategy, the housing and homelessness organisations that were part of the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel issued a joint statement and said:

To end rough sleeping by 2027, the government must build on today’s welcome announcement and set out plans to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place. The ambitious target that the government has set itself will only be achieved if it is equally bold in addressing the policies that cause rough sleeping.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson, responded further by saying:

Homeless Link welcomes this strategy as a positive starting point setting out a range of initiatives that could make a significant impact on reducing rough sleeping. However, to end rough sleeping for good the government will need to ensure this plan is built on and prioritise tackling the structural causes of homelessness including action on reducing poverty, urgently addressing the chronic shortage of low-cost housing and ensuring an effective welfare safety net.

Watch the discussion about the new strategy on Victoria Derbyshire here, which includes Callum Curry, who has been helped by WHC in the past, amongst other interviewees.