George Osborne has announced a £115m package towards dealing with homelessness, including an extra £5m for a social impact bond, as part of today’s Budget, but charities say more action is needed.
Today’s budget included the news that the government will invest £100m in “low-cost ‘second stage’ accommodation for rough sleepers leaving hostel accommodation and domestic abuse victims and their families moving on from refuges”.
It said that this will create 2,000 places and free up hostels for those in “acute need”.
The government will also invest £10m over two years to “scale up innovative ways to prevent and reduce rough sleeping” building on the No Second Night Out initiative.
It has doubled the amount of funding for the rough sleeping social impact bond, which was announced at the Autumn Statement, from £5m to £10m. It says this will “drive innovative ways of tackling entrenched rough sleeping, including the Housing First approach”.
Needs to go further
Homelessness charities have said that while they welcome the announcement the government needs to tackle the root causes.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010 and these vital funds are needed now more than ever.
“The announcement of funding for Housing First is particularly welcome. This is something that Crisis has been calling for and offers a real opportunity to end homelessness for some of the most vulnerable people.
“Nevertheless, if the government is serious about tackling homelessness, it needs to go much further than this. Without stronger action, including a change in the law and the funding to make it work, these measures do little to tackle the underlying problems, both in the law and with conditions in the housing market.
Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCA, said: “Our own research shows that nine in 10 of our YMCAs have been unable to accept referrals in the past due to a lack of bed spaces while evidence also shows that rough sleeping in London among 18 to 25-year-olds is on the rise.
“It is essential, however, that any money invested is done so in the right way and at the right level to provide sustainable support. Without help to overcome mental and physical health problems and to gain meaningful employment, a roof over someone’s head is often little more than a quick fix that may not help people to truly overcome the issues that caused their rough sleeping.”
The Rt Revd James Langstaff, chair of Housing Justice and Bishop of Rochester said: "The government commitment to tackle homelessness is, of course, more than welcome. The reality is however, that the increasing problems of housing and homelessness are very complex and require concerted action over a period of time.”