We are disappointed not to see a greater decrease in the number of rough sleepers in England as we are working so hard to tackle and prevent homelessness across the country. Although it is encouraging that the rate of increase has clearly slowed year on year.
Everyone is moved to see people who sleep rough on our streets – and 4,677 people sleeping outdoors on any given night is still completely unacceptable.
Tackling and preventing homelessness remains a key priority for Riverside and we will continue to provide a broad range of services and support to our customers so that many more are able to successfully move on into stable accommodation and lead fulfilling lives.
The Homelessness Reduction Act and Rough Sleeper Strategy launched last year are positive steps however more must be done to end this national crisis.
In order to meet its ambitious targets to halve rough sleeping by 2020 and subsequently end it altogether by 2027 the Government needs to take further action including;
- Adequate and sustainable funding levels for local authorities to prevent essential services, including mental health, drug and alcohol services, being reduced or decommissioned
- A renewed focus and funding for services that prevent homelessness occurring in the first place.
- Guarantee long-term funding for homelessness services
The significance of adequate and sustained funding is clearly evidenced by these latest figures. They show that the areas where there has been increased funding for rough sleeping as part of the Rough Sleepers Initiative there has been a drop overall in the numbers sleeping on the streets (23%) while areas receiving no extra money have seen a 41% increase in rough sleepers. Without action, the numbers of those sleeping rough will continue to run at what are unacceptable levels.
Riverside will continue to develop innovative approaches working with partners to end homelessness in the areas we operate. This includes the roll out of the Real Change ‘alternative giving’ funds across Greater Manchester where, working with partners, new funds have already been established in Wigan & Leigh and Rochdale. Working with each local authority and partners, local people and businesses are now able to donate money, items and time to directly help prevent homelessness and rough sleeping for local people.
At the same time, we are working with local authority partners in other areas through our own impact fund and develop innovative projects funded from our own impact fund to address and prevent homelessness.