The Kerslake Comission’s newly published interim report on homelessness and rough sleeping is a landmark moment in recognising the need for a long-term national strategy, joined up commissioning and a far greater focus on homelessness prevention. Our Executive Director for Care & Support, John Glenton, explains why the Government must now heed and act upon recommendations based on lessons learned during its own hugely successful ‘Everyone In’ initiative.
“At a time when Lord John Bird has warned that ‘More people are at risk of homelessness now than at any time in living memory’ the Kerslake Commission’s interim report highlights the importance of long-term sustainable investment and focussing on homelessness prevention to tackle this national crisis.
“The Government has done exceptionally well tackling homelessness during a national health emergency. In 2019/20, a total of 288,470 households (equivalent to a city the size of Sheffield) were owed a homelessness prevention or relief duty by a Local Authority – now it’s time to treat our housing and homelessness crises as a national emergency.
“The Kerslake Commission recommends increasing Rough Sleeper Initiative funding by almost a third (32%), equivalent to £81.5m on this year’s planned spending levels with a clear focus on rough sleeping prevention, outreach, accommodation and support.
“Riverside is acutely aware of the funding challenges faced by homelessness services. As part of the Everyone In initiative, Riverside supported more than 600 people affected by homelessness in London, Manchester and Liverpool enabling us to see first-hand the positive impact high-quality accommodation can have on the future well-being of those affected by homelessness.
“Prevention and early intervention is most effective when it involves a joined-up approach across welfare, housing, homelessness, health and mental health services.
“A report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee last year found that 90,000 new social homes are needed every year to meet the country’s housing needs.
“For the Government to reach its ambitious target to eradicate rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament (2024), then we must see a commitment to homelessness prevention, underpinned by long-term sustainable investment in homelessness services and the construction of tens of thousands of new homes for social rent each year.
“We strongly believe that a joined-up national housing and homeless strategy must be at the very top of the Government’s agenda.”