Refugee Households In Wirral Facing Homelessness

New figures show dozens of refugee households were facing homelessness in Wirral in the last quarter of 2023, reports the Wirral Globe.

The number of asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation has grown massively over the past year across England, as a refugee charity brands the rise “tragic yet predictable”. Data from the Department of Housing, Levelling Up and Communities shows 57 households living in supported asylum accommodation in Wirral had received support from the council for being homeless – known as homelessness duties – in the last quarter of 2023.

All of these households were receiving ‘relief’ duties, meaning they had already lost their homes. Over the same period in 2022, the total figure was 15. Across the country, around 5,800 refugee households received these duties at the end of 2023 – up from 1,390 a year before.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said the rise in refugee homelessness was the “tragic yet predictable consequence of a dysfunctional system”. Currently, refugees have 28 days to move on to regular benefits once their refugee status is granted. But Mr Solomon says it is “simply unrealistic” to expect someone to secure housing and a stable income in that time, meaning refugees often end up without a home.

He said: “The day they are granted refugee status should be a day of immense relief and celebration. But it’s not, because by giving people such a limited time to start anew, the risk of becoming homeless and destitute is felt immediately.” He urged the Government to work with local authorities to extend the ‘move-on’ period to 56 days. Many of these households were in London, with 1,420 homeless refugee families in the capital. This was followed by the North West, which had 1,210.

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said: “Councils continue to see growing demand for housing advice and support as they process a backlog of claims from those seeking asylum.” They said housing shortages mean those leaving asylum accommodation will struggle to find homes, and the organisation wants to work with the Government to improve the system of housing asylum seekers.

They continued: “This requires a national, regional and local approach to solving pressing housing needs across all schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK. Councils do not receive funding for people whose asylum claim has been granted and also need urgent confirmation of the funding available for their role in asylum for 2024-25.”

A government spokesperson said the refugees’ 28 days to move on from asylum accommodation begins when their biometric residence permit is issued. This could give them longer than 28 days between the refugee status being granted and the end of the ‘moving-on’ period. The spokesperson also said: “Support is also available through Migrant Help and their partners, which includes advice on how to access Universal Credit, the labour market and where to get assistance with housing. “We are working to make sure individuals have the support they need following an asylum decision, and to help local authorities better plan as we reduce the number of asylum seekers awaiting a decision.”

Seven Kids In Every School Could Be Homeless By 2030

Glastonbury founder Sir Michael Eavis, homeless charities and social housing campaigners have written to the leaders of the three main parties calling for urgent action on the housing crisis, reports the Mirror.

A generation of children risk having “their futures snatched away” if the next Prime Minister doesn’t act on the housing crisis, campaigners have warned. Glastonbury founder Sir Michael Eavis, charities and social housing campaigners have written to the leaders of the three main parties calling for urgent action to stop children growing up in damp, mouldy and overcrowded homes.

Analysis by the National Housing Federation (NHF) suggests seven children in every school – or 160,000 kids – will be homeless by the end of the next Parliament if nothing changes. Some 85 children in every school will be living in overcrowded homes – around 2.1 million kids – while 1 in 5 families – some 4.8 million – will be unable to afford their rent or mortgage, the analysis found.

It comes after the latest Government figures said nearly 20,000 more kids were in temporary accommodation at the end of December 2023 compared to the year before, taking the total to 145,800 children. Some 112,660 households were living in temporary accommodation at the end of last year – another record high.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey, campaigners said: “An entire generation of children risk having their futures snatched away if the next Prime Minister does not act to end the housing crisis.” The group, which includes charities like Barnardo’s, St Mungo’s and Refuge, went on: “Millions of children across the country do not have anywhere safe and decent to call home.”

“These children are living without space to study, play or even have a good night’s sleep; while their parents struggle to afford essentials like food and clothes. Children with Black and Asian backgrounds are more likely to live in homes with overcrowding or damp and mould. Without a solid foundation from which to grow, these children are having their future potential and life opportunities stolen from them.”

A new YouGov poll found housing is a major issue for voters, with nearly 1 in 3 (31%) Brits saying they have been negatively impacted by housing issues in the last 12 months. The research found nearly 3 in 10 (29%) parents affected by housing issues said this had negatively impacted their children’s health, behaviour, confidence, education or relationships.

More than 8 in 10 (85%) people support building homes in their local area and a majority (53%) across all political parties think the government should prioritise building social homes over housing for private rent or sale. “We can put an end to the housing emergency and make sure our children have a secure future,” the letter said. “Your voters want this, our children need this, and it makes fiscal sense. To achieve this, we need the next Prime Minister to take the lead on a long-term plan for housing.”

Number Of Women Sleeping Rough ‘Vastly Underestimated’

The week-long women’s rough sleeping census found homeless women are more hidden than male counterparts and missing from official the rough sleeping count, reports the Big Issue.

Official street homelessness counts could be underestimating the number of homeless women on the streets in England by as much as nine times, the first national women’s rough sleeping census has found. A coalition of homelessness and women’s organisations and local authorities across 41 areas of the country spent a week last year counting the number of women on the streets and found 816 female rough sleepers. That’s almost nine times the 189 women counted in the 41 local authorities in the government’s official rough sleeping snapshot, released in February, and in excess of the 568 the one-night snapshot and estimates found across the whole of England.

Nahar Choudhury, Solace Women’s Aid chief executive, said: “The key findings from the census show that rough sleeping is inequitable and inherently gender biased and that there is an urgent need for policy reform to ensure fairness, accuracy and inclusivity in data collection. We know, all too well, the dangers women face when homeless and the well-evidenced link between domestic abuse and homelessness. It’s important that policy makers acknowledge this and implement the changes needed.”

The census, led by Single Homeless Project and Solace Women’s Aid, first started in London in 2022. Homelessness charities and women’s organisations joined forces to create the model after identifying how women were being missed from official counts because they tend to be more hidden on the streets than men on the streets. While the stereotypical image of a rough sleeper might conjure up a vision of a man in a doorway, homeless women are more likely to be found sheltering in A&E waiting rooms, on night buses or trains, in squats, walking around all night or even taking the risk of staying with strangers.

None of these forms of rough sleeping are encompassed within the current government rough sleeping definition and that leaves women at risk of being missed or unable to access specialist services that meet their needs. One of the women who completed the census survey told organisers that she was “scared to sleep outside in case anything bad happened to me”. “It’s cold outside, it’s tough and scary,” she added. “When you’re a woman and so vulnerable and you’ve got no help, you go to somewhere like a station and think I’ll be OK – and then it’s not OK, it’s closed or there are other intimidating scary people there. I would roam around and travel on buses. As a female, you can’t just go to the corner of a road and sleep. It’s not safe.”

The census found 391 women were rough sleeping in London, compared to the 159 found in the official count. There were large discrepancies in other parts of the country too. In Greater Manchester the census uncovered 188 female rough sleepers compared to just five in the official account. There were 61 women counted in the census in Coventry compared to just one in the official count. In Gloucestershire, 21 women were found in the census while the official count found zero. The census’ organisers believe their count may still under-represent the true figure.

The group have called for leaders to change the way women’s rough sleeping is recognised, counted and responded to by making homelessness policies more gender-informed and conducting an equalities impact assessment on data. They also hope ministers will take over the women’s rough sleeping census in the future to allow it to cover every local authority in England annually.

Lucy Campbell, head of multiple disadvantage at Single Homeless Project, said: “Since we first launched the census in London in 2022, we have used the results to demonstrate that far more women sleep rough than previously understood and encourage more local authorities to join us and call for action. This year’s results from 816 women around England tell us more about how, when and where they sleep rough.”

“The body of evidence shows that women’s needs are not being met, largely due to current government policies and practices which are based predominantly on the experiences of men. This is an equalities issue that needs urgent attention from central government so that women experiencing this devastating form of homelessness are not further marginalised by the support systems that are meant to help them.”

The Big Issue shadowed Single Homeless Project outreach workers as they looked for women on the streets of London in October last year. Homelessness minister Felicity Buchan joined a briefing on the first day of the census and told the Big Issue that the count was “critically important” to help the government work towards its goal of ending rough sleeping by the end of this year. That goal is now virtually certain to be missed.

Michelle Binfield, London Councils’ rough sleeping programme director said: “With London’s homelessness crisis as bad as ever, it’s vital that service providers in the capital have clear and robust information on how many women sleep rough in London. This data is critical for shaping our strategic response and ensuring support services can meet these women’s needs. Alongside our partners across London’s homelessness sector, boroughs are committed to doing all we can to assist women off the streets and into safe accommodation.”

Child Homelessness Up

According to new figures, the number of homeless children living in temporary accommodation in Warrington has almost doubled in a year, reports the Warrington Guardian.

Latest data from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) shows a record number of homeless children living in short-term accommodation across England. A housing charity cautioned a generation of young people have had their lives ‘blighted by homelessness’, with campaigners calling for long-promised rental reforms to be strengthened.

The data shows there were 101 children living in temporary accommodation in Warrington as of the end of 2023 – the latest period for which data is available. These include short-term private rental properties, as well as hostels and bed and breakfasts. This was a rise on the same point a year earlier when there were 69 children in temporary accommodation. Across England there were 145,800 children in temporary accommodation at the end of 2023, up by a fifth on when records began 20 years ago, and a 15 per cent rise from the year before, when there were 126,340.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The Government cannot stand idly by while a generation of children have their lives blighted by homelessness. Decades of failure to build enough genuinely affordable social homes has left families struggling to cobble together extortionate sums every month to keep a roof over their heads.”

In total, 112 households were living in temporary accommodation in Warrington, 56 of them with dependent children. This was the up from the year before when 56 households were living in temporary accommodation. The figures show the most common type of short-term housing was local authority or housing association stock, occupied by 30 households with children. In total, 112,660 households were dealing with short-term living arrangements at the end of 2023, up from 12 per cent at the same point in 2022. This included 15,950 housed in bed and breakfasts, and 6,250 in hostels.

A DLUHC spokesman said councils are being supported with £1.2billion to give help to those who need it, and local housing allowance has been boosted to help towards rental costs. They added: “Temporary accommodation is a vital safety net to make sure families are not left without a roof over their heads. But councils must make sure it is suitable for families who have a right to appeal if it is not.”

Homelessness Jumps 16% In England

Official figures show nearly 45,000 households had nowhere to live in the three months to December last year, reports the Guardian.

Figures published by the government on Tuesday show nearly 45,000 households in England were assessed as homeless in the three months to December, up from just under 39,000 during the same period in 2022. The figures also show the number of people – including children – in temporary accommodation hit record levels in 2023, triggering warnings of a housing “emergency”.

Mike Amesbury, the shadow minister for homelessness, said: “These stats reveal a growing Tory housing emergency being felt by families in every part of the country. Over the past 14 years, the Tories have taken a wrecking ball to the foundation of a secure home, leaving Britain facing a homelessness epidemic. Under this government’s watch, kids are growing up in temporary accommodation, coming home from school to do their homework on the bathroom floor of a hotel room and eating dinner perched on their bed.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Decades of failure to build enough genuinely affordable social homes has left families struggling to cobble together extortionate sums every month to keep a roof over their heads. Those who can’t afford private rents are being thrown into homelessness and then left for months and even years in damaging temporary accommodation because there is nowhere else.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We want everyone to have a safe place to call home, which is why we’re giving councils £1.2bn so that they can give financial support to those who need it, helping them to find a new home and move out of temporary accommodation. At the same time, we’ve boosted the local housing allowance, giving the 1.6 million private renters in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit an additional £800 to help towards rental costs.”

The Conservatives promised in 2019 they would build 300,000 additional homes every year by the mid-2020s in an attempt to tackle housing shortages and spiralling prices. Last year, however, only 234,400 new homes were added to England’s housing stock, while MPs say the figure is unlikely to get close to the government’s target by 2025. Part of the problem, say experts, is the decision by ministers to abandon mandatory population-based targets for local authorities, which they did after a backbench rebellion by Conservatives mainly from suburban and rural seats.

The figures released on Tuesday also show the number of people who were made homeless or were threatened with homelessness because of a no-fault eviction in 2023 reached a record total of 25,910. The Conservatives had promised to end no-fault evictions. But the government amended its renters reform bill last week to postpone the start of that ban indefinitely, saying it could be brought in only when the court system was deemed ready to take on a potential influx of cases.

Tom Darling, the campaign manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “Every week sees more families evicted and growing pressure on the budgets of councils struggling to meet the rising cost of homelessness support. And yet observing this steadily spiralling crisis, it is maddening to watch the government’s approach to the Renters (Reform) bill, one of the key levers at its disposal to tackle this crisis.”

A Letter From The Government…

As Secretaries of State in the Department for Education and the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities, we have seen the commendable work carried out by your teams in supporting those in care and care leavers. We have also listened to powerful representations made by the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, people working with care experienced young people and, most importantly, care leavers themselves telling us of the need for us to do more.

This government has set out a bold reform agenda in its response to the Care Review, Stable Homes, Built on Love, including our mission to see an increase in the number of care leavers in safe, suitable accommodation and a reduction in homelessness for care experienced young people. This includes a commitment to strengthen statutory guidance and set out procedural expectations on intentional homelessness, to remove its use for care leavers under 25, and legislate if necessary.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance already provides guidance on how local housing authorities should exercise their functions relating to care leavers who are already homeless or are threatened with homelessness, and how to apply the statutory duties in practice. In recent months, our departments have worked with local authorities to meet the commitment set out in the Care Review through updating statutory and non-statutory guidance.

We are writing to you today to inform you of our three-step approach to reducing the number of care leavers found intentionally homeless.

Preventing care leaver homelessness

DLUHC has updated the Homelessness Code of Guidance to strengthen our expectation that all local authorities should develop a joint housing protocol.

Joint housing protocols codify the practice of joint working between children’s and housing services that is essential to support care leaver transitions to independent living and accommodation. Housing authorities, children’s services authorities and other relevant departments within local authorities should have joint housing protocols and procedures in place so that each department can play a full role in providing integrated support to young people leaving care. This should help children’s services and housing authorities deliver the local accommodation offer to care leavers and play a key role in preventing care leaver homelessness.

It should set out the commitments as corporate parents, and how these will be delivered in practice. It should include commissioning of suitable accommodation and support for care leavers to reduce the risk of homelessness. Our updated Good practice guidance can support local authorities with the development of joint housing protocols.

We expect that intentional homelessness decisions for care leavers are exceptional

We expect that local authorities should avoid the impact of intentionally homeless decisions wherever possible. The Homelessness Code of Guidance has been updated to clarify that, when a housing authority is considering whether a care leaver has become homeless intentionally, they should be satisfied that the support and accommodation provided has met the care leaver’s needs.

While we recognise that in rare situations, a decision of intentionality may be necessary where all other avenues have been exhausted, LAs must have regard to care leavers’ vulnerability and the lack of parental support and stability that would ordinarily be provided to young people, when considering accountability. Intentional homeless decisions in respect of care leavers should therefore be exceptional.

Increasing governance around intentional homelessness decisions for care leavers

When developing their joint housing protocols, local authorities should include arrangements for senior leader level sign off, for example Director or Assistant Director, from both housing and children’s services for any intentional homelessness decisions for care leavers. This will increase governance around negative decisions and ensure that all appropriate checks are in place and interventions have been considered.

As part of this sign off, senior leaders should review the circumstances that have led to the decision.  Our Good practice guidance  on joint housing protocols has been updated to include a template to support discussions. Sign off may include consideration of, for example, the steps and support that have been put in place to prevent homelessness for the young person; interventions that can take place to support the care leaver into sustainable housing; and if an intentional homeless decision is agreed, an accommodation plan to provide ongoing housing and support.

Going forward

Helping care leavers to make a successful transition from care to independence is a priority for the Government. That is why we are committed to increase the support to this vulnerable cohort of young people, to find safe and secure accommodation and to improve their life chances and outcomes.

We thank you for all your continued hard work and urge you to work together, across children’s services and housing and homelessness teams, to reflect upon current practice and procedures and embed these changes to guidance in your service delivery. We ask that you, working with young people, take time to reflect on how you are being the best possible corporate parents to the young people in your care and meeting their accommodation needs.

With every good wish,

RT HON MICHAEL GOVE MP Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities

RT HON GILLIAN KEEGAN MP Secretary of State for Education Minister for Intergovernmental Relations

Wigan Council Needs £1m To Support Young Homeless

New research suggests Wigan Council needs almost £1m in extra funding to help every young person facing homelessness, reports Wigan Today.

Councils are obligated to assess anyone who seeks homelessness support. This means issuing a prevention duty, stopping them from becoming homeless if they are deemed to be at risk, or a relief duty, where the authority must help an already homeless applicant secure accommodation for at least six months. But figures from youth housing and homelessness charity Centrepoint and WPI Economics show more than a third of 16 to 24-year-olds who present as homeless across England went unassessed in the year to March 2023. It said it is “deeply concerned” councils do not have the required resources to carry out their homeless assessment duties, and called on the government to address the crisis.

Research from the charity and WPI Economics shows 813 young people presented themselves as homeless to Wigan Borough Council in 2022-23.

But of these, 325 (40 per cent) were not screened. Using this figure, the charity estimates Wigan Council would need a further £906,000 to cover the costs associated with assessment and support. Nationally, 120,000 young people presented as homeless in 2022-23, with over 40,000 estimated to have been left without support. It means councils would need a 15% increase in government funding, equating to a shortfall of around £332 million.

Alicia Walker, head of policy, research and campaigns at Centrepoint said: “Councils have a legal duty to assess anyone who presents as homeless, but we are deeply concerned that they do not have the means to carry out these duties. It’s not good enough that so many young people are not getting the chance of that assessment, let alone accessing support.” She added: “We can’t just blame councils for this. It’s clear they don’t have the resources to meet the increasing demand for homelessness services, and the Government needs to address this crisis.”

A Wigan Council spokesperson said, “Wigan Council has made additional investment in local homelessness services, increasing the range of accommodation options for young people here in our borough which will provide bespoke support to those in need. Homelessness is a challenge that councils across the country are facing, and with any additional funding we would further enhance the local opportunities and options for young people across the borough.” Councillor Darren Rodwell, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said councils have repeatedly raised concerns regarding the effect of the rising cost of living, running multiple asylum and resettlement programmes, and an insufficient supply of affordable housing.

Councillor Rodwell added: “We urge the Government to address the subsidy gap, so that councils have more money to spend on delivering homelessness and housing support, as well as provide multi-year funding to put towards crucial homelessness prevention activities.” The shortfall predictions are based on the unassessed applicants requiring the same level of support as those already screened. However, the researchers warn the national shortfall could rise to £425m in a realistic worst-case scenario – including £1.1m in Wigan – should a higher proportion of people require support. In a more optimistic scenario, the local funding gap drops to £733,000.

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: “We recognise that young people experiencing homelessness face particular challenges, and we want to ensure that they get the support they need. That is why we are spending £1.2bn over three years to give councils the funding they need to prevent homelessness and help more people sooner, as well as supporting councils with our dedicated youth homelessness advisor roles.”

Nespresso Commits £1m To Support The Homeless

Nespresso has announced its partnership with Change Please, a social enterprise founded in London in 2015, reports Retail Times.

The partnership will see Nespresso support Change Please Foundation with its mission of empowering individuals who are experiencing homelessness through a commitment of £1 Million in its first year. As part of its 2022/23 Impact Report, Change Please noted a 50% increase in homelessness between March 2022 and March 2023, and tragically, it also reported 1,313 deaths as a result of homelessness back in 2021. This partnership will see Nespresso support Change Please in their mission to eradicate one of the UK’s biggest societal problems and change lives through the power of coffee. Nespresso’s £1 Million commitment will go towards empowering those who are experiencing homelessness with barista training, a living wage job, life admin support including securing housing and opening a bank account, mental health support and onward employment opportunities.

Half of the initial money (£500,000) will pay for a long-term plan and support at least 50 trainees in The Republic of Ireland. This will allow Change Please to begin its impact work in the Republic of Ireland, including the employment of a Regional Programme Manager and the set-up of a coffee training programme to build on the successful business model in the UK. A further quarter (£250,000) will cover the set up a new retail site/café in a key city where Change Please is, to support the onward employment journey of Trainees and Graduates. The rest of the money will expand and upgrade the Change Please business to ensure longevity and improve support for trainees.

From June 2024, coffee lovers will be able to purchase Nespresso for Change Please coffee blends across the Original, Vertuo and B2B systems and learn more about the partnership and the issue of homelessness at a week-long event held at the Outernet in London. Further profits made from a new collection of accessories and nationwide events will also support Change Please’s mission. The latest data from Shelter estimates 309,000 people are homeless in England alone, with many more at risk. In February 2024 it was reported that the number of people sleeping rough is now 61% higher than it was ten years ago and 120% higher than when data collection began in 2010.

In 2023, Change Please supported 1550 people experiencing homelessness through its programmes, and a further 720 individuals to date in 2024. It is estimated that 50 individuals in Ireland will directly from the funding. Cemal Ezel, CEO and founder of Change Please, says: “We are extremely proud to launch this incredible partnership with Nespresso. We have seen the amazing work Nespresso does in coffee growing regions. This partnership goes beyond simply selling great coffee, it’s about using the power of business to drive social change and improve the lives of those most in need in the UK and Ireland. Through this collaboration, we are joining forces to demonstrate how companies can come together to make real change and to do good. We hope to inspire others on the transformative potential of corporate social responsibility.”

Anna Lundstrom, CEO for Nespresso UKI, said: “By harnessing the positive force of coffee for over twenty years, Nespresso has reestablished and uplifted farming communities around the world through our AAA programme. Today, we are proud to extend this ethos through our partnership with Change Please, supporting its education and employment-first model to empower individuals experiencing homelessness through the transformative potential of a simple cup of coffee. Together we can enrich the lives of both our farmers and the communities in the UK and Republic of Ireland.”

Whistleblower Reveals ‘Crackpot Tory’ Plan To Criminalise Homelessness

Civil servants tasked with delivering the government’s plans to criminalise homelessness have “low morale” and are tired of “crackpot Tory ideas”, a government insider working on the Criminal Justice Bill has told the Big Issue.

The controversial bill is due to replace the Vagrancy Act, which has outlawed rough sleeping and begging for 200 years. But it has faced opposition from Conservative MPs and frontline homelessness groups, including the Big Issue, over measures that could see rough sleepers face jail or a fine up to £2,500 for an “excessive smell”. Speaking exclusively to the Big Issue, the insider said they were “ashamed” at having to work on the bill and the experience left them looking to leave the civil service.

The government insider, verified by the Big Issue, said: “I have never been so ashamed to call myself a civil servant. The code requires us to work on whatever the government wants us to, but after years of crackpot Tory ideas, I can’t take it anymore. Criminalising Homelessness has been the straw that has broken the camel’s back.” The Criminal Justice Bill is currently awaiting its report stage in the House of Commons – the fourth of five stages it needs to pass before moving over to the Lords on its journey into law.

The government insider told the Big Issue civil servants are braced for more than 100 amendments to the legislation, which also includes measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, sexual offences and police powers to take on drug and knife crime. They also expect it is unlikely that the bill will pass before the general election or faces being scrapped if a Labour government replaced the Conservatives at 10 Downing Street. “In my opinion, that would be a good thing. But we can’t bank on that unfortunately,” they said. “I think where we are in the political cycle more broadly: morale in the services is low and the general mood is low. This is just a last-ditch attempt at trying to be seen to be doing something to appease the shy Tory voter who gets a little bit uppity when somebody comes asking for a few pennies to buy a meal. I think people are really seeing through the cracks at an official level but our code compels us to do the work.”

They added: “Firstly, it’s not workable. And secondly, in whose public interest is it to criminalise homeless people or those who are struggling to get by? It might be in the Tories’ interest but certainly not the public’s. I think sometimes, as officials, the best thing we can do is kick things into the long grass and just hope that a change in ministerial direction, or a change in government, which is a rarity that we’re afforded, means that we can get rid of these ideas, because I don’t think anyone’s enjoying working on this.” The government insider also revealed that the Big Issue has come up in discussions around the bill.

They feared the current wording in the bill, which speaks of “nuisance rough sleeping” and “nuisance begging” and can punish people who are “likely” to be down, is too broad and could cause problems for Big Issue vendors. Their concerns centred on clause 57 of the Bill, which defines “nuisance begging”. Currently, the clause prevents harassment, alarm or distress to a person or their belongings and cites areas such as ATMs, public transport or vending machines. “It’s how hard you go in on that because is someone going to say selling the Big Issue is considered harassment?” the government insider said.

“Vendors are providing something in exchange for money, which isn’t begging, but if a member of the public has a warped view of society or a warped view of homelessness, and they think, ‘Oh, this is intimidating’ while in designated place like a train station, can they claim it as an offence? It’s just far too narrow.”

They added: “We sadly live in this society where, if you want to claim that you’re being harassed, the police will be compelled to come along. It’s all a waste of everybody’s time. Clause 57 is problematic from start to finish. They [Home Office] are trying to push ahead with it, trying to make the shoe fit and that’s not good policymaking.” Ultimately, the government insider said, the bill is an indictment of the Tories’ time in power and he accused ministers of hoping the measures relating to homelessness passed into law without being noticed.

“It’s cherry on the top here. Because you’ve had a decade of austerity and cutting back essential services at the front end and then on your way out you decide to criminalise the very same people who you have effectively put on the streets,” said the government insider. “The home secretary might not be as controversial as Suella, but it’s just the mechanisms and the way in which they are doing things like this, to criminalise vagrancy in this way. Because they know that without movements like the Big Issue, people wouldn’t shout about it because it’s just getting lost among amendments to 50 other bills and acts.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Civil servants enter public service understanding they are here to serve the government of the day, enact its policies and act professionally in accordance with the Civil Service code. The Criminal Justice Bill will repeal the out-dated Vagrancy Act and replace it with new legislation focused on supporting people to get off the streets. No one will be criminalised for simply having nowhere to live and we continue to engage with stakeholders and parliamentary colleagues as the bill passes through parliament.”

Housing LGBTQ+ And Vulnerable Young People

Lambeth Council has received more than £2m in funding, which will go towards providing housing support for young LGBTQ+ residents, reports Inside Housing.

The money, granted through the government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP), covers three years and will support young people who would otherwise be at risk of rough sleeping. It will be split between three initiatives, which will see the council working with partners to provide specialist accommodation for 22 to 26-year-olds who are not ready to live independently, young women with mental ill health and additional needs, and LGBTQ+ young people.

The SHAP fund, launched last year, is managed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and the Greater London Authority (GLA). The fund aims to help councils and their partners to support adults with a long history of rough sleeping and young people aged 18 to 25 who are at risk of rough sleeping by providing long-term accommodation and support.

Lambeth Council has awarded contracts to three organisations. Charity AKT will provide support to LGBTQ+ young people aged 18 to 25 in a building owned by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH).  The AKT will also provide training so that partnership providers can provide specialist support to LGBTQ+ young people. Housing association MTVH will provide supported accommodation to young women aged 18 to 25 with mental health and additional needs, especially those who are vulnerable to exploitation. Peabody will provide 24-hour support to young people aged 22 to 26.

When the fund was announced, the council did an analysis of its gaps in provision.

Sophie Konradsen, lead commissioner for routes to independence pathway and semi-independent living at Lambeth Council, said: “Our analysis revealed a lack of specialist provision for LGBTQ+ young people, and a reluctance from LGBTQ+ people to access frontline council and commissioned supported housing services due to discrimination.” Ms Konradsen also said there was a “lack of appropriate single gender provision for young women” who require specialist support particularly for “trauma related to men. This funding will enable us to bring forward plans to support young people in Lambeth who may otherwise be at risk of rough sleeping,” she said.