London boroughs call for ‘urgent clarity’ on rough sleeping next steps

  • By JackGraves

London Councils has been assured by government officials that there are no immediate changes to national policy on rough sleeping, which has seen boroughs and their partners secure emergency accommodation for around 4,000 rough sleepers in the capital in response to Covid-19. No-one receiving this support is being asked to leave their accommodation at this time.

Substantial progress has been made in reducing rough sleeping in London since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Boroughs are urging the government to continue working with local authorities and others to maintain this progress and avoid a spike in homelessness.

This is a major concern in London, which faces the most significant homelessness crisis in the country. Boroughs point to the urgent need for clarity on future funding and other support arrangements.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“Since the start of the pandemic, boroughs and the GLA have worked flat out to support homeless Londoners and secure emergency accommodation for around 4,000 rough sleepers.

“In a time of immense challenge, this has been a magnificent achievement on the part of London’s homelessness services. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to build on this progress and embed a permanent reduction in rough sleeping in the capital. Otherwise, we risk rough sleepers returning to the streets – and no-one wants to see that.

“Boroughs need urgent clarity on the government’s planned next steps for funding and other support measures. We hope ministers will continue to work with councils on this crucial agenda, because together we can achieve our shared ambitions on tackling homelessness.”

London Councils is calling for:

  • Sufficient funding for local authorities to meet the higher support needs of rough sleepers and ensure onward accommodation can be secured
  • A twelve-month suspension of no recourse to public fund restrictions to enable financial support for those who would otherwise return to rough sleeping
  • Further welfare policy changes to support homeless Londoners and those at risk of homelessness, including lifting the benefit cap and abolishing the local housing allowance shared accommodation rate for single applicants under 35
  • A phased lifting of lockdown measures to avoid a cliff edge when hotel accommodation returns to commercial uses.