Liverpool To Benefit From Government Pledge To End Rough Sleeping

Liverpool will be one of the city’s involved in a pilot project aimed at ending rough sleeping by 2024, the Government has said.

According to a report in the Liverpool Echo, the £16 million scheme is aimed at supporting homeless people after being discharged from hospital. The Government hopes it will reduce pressure on the NHS and help people who are homeless find accommodation, with part of the programme aimed at ‘ending rough sleeping by 2024’. The cycle of people leaving hospital and returning to the streets, only to be quickly readmitted to hospital, is the main objective of the pilot project.

The government said patients who are homeless in hospital are more than twice as likely to be readmitted to hospital in an emergency compared with patients with housing. Adding: “A study of nearly 3,000 homeless patients discharged after an emergency admission from 78 hospitals between 2013 and 2016 revealed almost 2,000 were readmitted within a year, at almost double the rate of those with homes to go to.”

The pilots will run in 17 areas of the UK, including Liverpool, and aim to offer improved services to help some of the most vulnerable members of society with basic needs such as housing, employment and drug dependency. People experiencing rough sleeping on average die 30 years earlier than the general population and the estimated number of those dying each year has risen by about 50% in less than a decade, according to official statistics.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough – extra support will ensure those who do not have a home can get the help they need, recover more quickly and end the cycle of readmission to hospital. This government has proven its commitment to helping people experiencing homelessness throughout this pandemic, providing temporary accommodation and priority vaccines.

He added: “These pilot schemes will show how much more effective care can be when it’s integrated and the best examples will be taken forward to help tackle homelessness across the country.”

Keep Everyone In For Good

Listening to Michael Gove’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference gave us the opportunity to understand how he views his new role as the Minister in charge of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. But worryingly, homelessness didn’t get a mention, writes Jenny Corbett, Policy Manager at Homeless Link.

The 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review – scheduled for October 2021 gives us a vital opportunity to ensure that ending rough sleeping, something the Conservatives pledged to deliver by the end of this parliament, doesn’t slip from the agenda. This review will set government departmental budgets over the next three years. Homeless Link’s submission to the Review makes the case for what is needed to ensure the government keeps its promise.

‘Everyone In’ showed how effective universal, unconditional support is in tackling homelessness, uniting organisations and driving innovation. But the temporary housing solutions offered to many were, by definition, temporary. Along with the continued fall out of the pandemic, the end of the Universal Credit uplift, end of furlough and closure of many Everyone In schemes means we are approaching a ‘perfect storm’ that will leave increasing numbers of people facing homelessness.

We need a stable, robust homelessness sector to face these challenges and we need long-term commitments from government to ensure progress made is not lost. You can help ensure that government Ministers don’t forget their pledge to end rough sleeping, please email your MP and ask them to support our submission to the Comprehensive Spending Review. You can find template letters to do this here: https://www.homeless.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/everyoneinforgood.

Homeless Link is calling for government to:

  1. Match enhanced investment in rough sleeping services during COVID-19 with a £132.5 million annual boost to the Rough Sleeping Initiative through to 2024/25, compared to 2021/22 levels. Deliver this through a simplified and long-term, guaranteed grant programme to local authorities.

A recent poll of Homeless Link members showed that 75% of responding members find short-term funding negatively impacts on the quality of their service, and 83% state that it leads to inconsistent support for people experiencing homelessness.

A renewed strategy to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness must provide a long-term, multi-year settlement to enable the development of sustainable and effective services that people can rely upon. The funding must be coordinated, streamlined and cross-departmental, to improve efficiency and reduce the burden on local authorities and services. The government must also sustain its move away from the funding cuts of the past decade.

  1. Commit £150.3 million annually for an initial three years for a national Housing First programme, led by the DLUHC but with cross-departmental investment and stewardship. Extend the funding commitment to the regional Housing First Pilots for a further three years.

Current provision of high-fidelity Housing First falls far short of need. It’s estimated that at least 16,450 Housing First places are needed by people with the most complex needs, but only 1,995 are available. We are calling for a national, cross-departmental Housing First programme, initially funded over the next three years, to roll out and expand Housing First in areas where it is needed. In addition, government should extend their investment in the regional pilots in order to preserve the impressive progress made and protect residents from the approaching funding cliff edge.

  1. Commit to a ten-year investment plan to realise the 90,000 social rent homes that England needs per year.

A lack of appropriate, affordable housing is one of the biggest causes of homelessness. It can also trap people in homelessness and prevent them from moving on from temporary accommodation. Over the long-term, the most cost-effective means to meet the scale of need for truly affordable homes is through the increased provision of homes for social rent. Research undertaken on behalf of Crisis and the National Housing Federation found that in order to meet the backlog ,90,000 social homes would need to be built a year over a 15-year period.

  1. Unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) so that it continues to cover at least the 30th percentile of local rents.

It is vital that housing benefit sufficiently covers the cost of private rented accommodation. With evictions having resumed, there are concerns across Homeless Link’s membership that the growth of rent arrears and LHA set at inadequate levels will lead to a potential huge wave of individuals being pushed into homelessness.

In addition to these priorities, our full submission includes crucial measures needed to tackle the needs of young people and women facing homelessness, as well as asks to better support the sector to tackle homelessness among non-UK nationals.

‘Spend Local’ Vouchers For The Homeless

Homeless people and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland will be able to apply for a £100 high street voucher through “trusted partners” this month, reports the BBC.

Organisations helping the homeless community and people in temporary accommodation can apply on their behalf for a pre-paid card. The organisations will collect application details of individuals who do not have a permanent address and the ‘Spend Local’ card must be used in shops before 30 November. Meanwhile, a phone application service will open on 11 October for anyone who does not have access to the internet.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said the phone line may be slightly busy at the start although he expects most applications will continue to be online. “This is another way to try to catch everybody we can,” he told BBC Radio Ulster. Mr Lyons said he had been hugely encouraged by the response to the scheme after the first 100,000 cards were issued. He urged people to use their cards and said any unspent cards would be returned to the economic recovery action plan.

The £145m scheme is designed to boost activity in businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, like non-essential retail and hospitality. The Department for the Economy said it expects to receive applications from organisations that work with asylum seekers and the homeless community by 25 October. Their details will then be sent to the card provider and cards will be “distributed as soon as possible thereafter”. It is then the responsibility of those organisations to distribute the prepaid cards to their service users.

The Welcome Organisation provides support for people affected by homelessness in Belfast, as well as crisis accommodation for vulnerable women. Jo Daykin-Goodall, its chief executive, said the voucher “will give those people a financial uplift that they wouldn’t normally have”. “They’re as entitled as anyone else to it and we’re delighted to be a part of ensuring they have access to it,” she said. “Homeless people live on the poverty line – they don’t know where their next meal is coming from and a lot don’t have very many items.”

She added that “quite a number of people have contacted us” wanting to use their £100 prepaid card to support services provided by the Welcome Organisation. “We have a wish list available with underwear, sleeping bags, food items that we need – that list will be available to members of the public who ask for it,” she said.

Ms Daykin-Goodall said the Welcome Organisation will use its headquarters’ address when applying on behalf of service users who do not have a permanent home. “We will be focusing on rough sleepers and people who are sofa surfing, living in squats or in non-standard and temporary accommodation who require help.” She said caseworkers and support workers are aiding the homeless “to help them decide on spending the money wisely”. “I expect a lot will use it for clothes or footwear for winter.”

Nicola McCrudden, who heads up the Council for the Homeless, said it is important “that individuals experiencing homelessness are able to exercise their entitlement to the £100 pre-paid card”. “This money can be a lifeline for many, including families, and can help towards basic necessities like food, clothing and fuel costs. People experiencing homelessness often find it difficult to access services because they don’t have a permanent address.” She said its members who provide homelessness services are working with the Department for the Economy to ensure that service users receive their cards.

There were 3,402 households in temporary accommodation in Northern Ireland as of August this year. Within these households, there were 3,596 children living in temporary accommodation. There were 8,610 people who presented themselves as homeless in Northern Ireland between January and June 2021. Almost anyone aged 18 and over in Northern Ireland can apply for a Spend Local card – about 1.4m people will be eligible. Prisoners are not entitled to a voucher.

Shop Assistant Helps Homeless Man

An ASDA worker has been hailed as a hero after helping a homeless man outside a supermarket find a place to stay.

The employee, called Debbie, was praised by her bosses for her response to the man in a desperate situation outside the South Yorkshire store she works in. Debbie has been showered with praise after ASDA shared the touching story with shoppers online.

The supermarket chain wrote: “When our colleague Debbie saw a homeless man sat on the kerb by our Wath Upon Dearne supermarket she knew she couldn’t walk by without helping him. After chatting to him and discovering that he’d been living rough for two weeks in a tent and was hungry, Debbie went into the store, bought him some food and a drink and grabbed an umbrella as it was raining.”

“She knew of someone who was allowing their caravan to be used as a temporary shelter free of charge for homeless people so she contacted them and arranged for him to stay there until he spoke to housing charities and got somewhere more permanent.”

Thousands of shoppers have praised Debbie for her actions, the Manchester Evening News reports. Responding to the story, one person said: “Well done, you’re obviously a caring lady and it’s refreshing to know the milk of human kindness still flows.” “Such a lovely act of kindness Debbie,” wrote a second.

A third person commented: “A really nice gesture Debbie well done for making a difference.” “Throw kindness around like confetti, well done you special girl,” said yet another impressed shopper.

A fifth exclaimed: “Debbie what a lovely young lady you are to do so much for this poor man, so well done you, a true Samaritan. Bless you for all you did for him, so glad he came back to thank you later, shows how much your kindness and efforts on his behalf meant to him.”

ASDA store manager Shane, who nominated Debbie for an ASDA customer service award, said: “A lot of people would have just walked past and not stopped, but not Debbie. She’s a very kind-hearted person and will do anything for anyone. The man, who was in his early twenties, came into store to thank Debbie and to reassure her that he was okay and now had somewhere to stay. Well done Debbie, you’re an outstanding colleague.”

Homeless Charity Gets Royal Approval

The Duke of Cambridge helped hand out gongs at the 40th birthday of homeless charity The Passage in Victoria, London.

He was also reunited with two former homeless people who have found jobs thanks to the charity. And in a speech William fondly recalled the trips he made to The Passage with Princess Diana when he was “just a small boy”.

William recognised Nomonde Mkhwanazi, 49, who he previously met before she transformed her life and now she is training to be an NHS nurse. William said: “You’ve not changed. I do remember you. Really nice to see you and look at you now. It is so important, this service. You are smiling more than you were last time you had your cap down and now you are smiling. I’m so pleased that things are getting better for you, really pleased.”

He also spotted Colin Chilman, 56, from a previous visit, who is now working in a central London restaurant. Colin remembers the Duke visiting the Passage with his mother Princess Diana and Harry when they were boys. William said: “Colin, what a journey. Well done I am so pleased it’s going well.” He later presented the duo with their Outstanding Achievement awards at a short ceremony. Afterwards, in a speech, the Duke congratulated all the winners.

He added: “Everyone has played their part and done incredible things. Your dedication and determination are remarkable and you should all be extremely proud of your achievements. All of you in this room – whether you are clients, staff, volunteers, partners or supporters – are what makes this place so very special.”

Wiliam took over as royal patron from his mother Princess Diana in 2019. He told the ceremony: “Over the many years that I have visited The Passage, first with my mother when I was just a small boy, I have developed a great affection for everyone who is here. Every time I come here, I am touched by your warmth and friendliness and the dignity and respect you show to every single person who comes through your door. I am always so impressed to see and hear the difference that The Passage makes to the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness.

“And I find it particularly inspiring to meet former clients who were helped by The Passage’s wonderful staff and volunteers in their time of need and who have come back to help others now that they are doing much better themselves. The last 18 months of the pandemic have shown us how much we rely on each other to get by – and just how strong our communities can be when we work together to get things done.”

“Initiatives like ‘Everyone In’ have kept those who are at risk of homelessness safe. And as we emerge from the pandemic, we now need to continue that collaboration to prevent and end homelessness. Thank you to everyone here at The Passage for all your continuing efforts in this life-changing work and enjoy a very belated happy 40th.” The Passage opened in 1980 and its 40th birthday party was postponed 12 months due to Covid.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Chilman described how he used The Passage for 35 years. He has been working as a kitchen porter for the past two and half years in a West End restaurant Carousel after the charity put him through a hotel training course. He said: “I remember seeing Diana many years ago and she was with her boys. They were so young. I also met William several years ago but I had a long beard.”

“I’m well happy to win this and extra special to get it from William. I just did what I did. From being an alcoholic I quit all that I went through a bad time and thankful for what has happened. It was 35 years ago and it changed my life. When I started the Hotel School I didn’t think I was going to last a day, but The Passage has changed my life.” He was also given help getting accommodation and beating his alcoholism.

Ms Mkhwanazi, 49, was referred from hospital in March 2016. She was homeless and suicidal with mental health issues fighting extradition to South Africa. The charity helped her get a flat and train for the NHS. She said: “The Passage accepted me and they were kind. Now I want to give back as a nurse in the NHS. Without the Passage I would have given up hope. I don’t feel worthy of getting this from Prince William but they say I am a role model for others in similar situations.”

The Passage runs residential and resettlement projects, health services, homelessness prevention schemes and a modern slavery referral programme. Mick Clarke, chief executive of The Passage, said to William: “Thanks for the support you give and the time, often without the cameras. Thank you for the care and compassion.”

Since being established, they have helped almost 135,000 people to end their homelessness for good. The Duke became Royal Patron in February 2019, having visited The Passage numerous times over the previous years with his mother. Di also took William and Harry onto London’s streets to see rough sleepers when they were boys. The event was due to take place last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.

At the height of the crisis the charity set up an emergency food hub, preparing and delivering 350 hot meals daily for people self-isolating in temporary accommodation. The hub was resourced by volunteers working seven days a week and has supplied over 94,000 meals.

Birkenhead Homeless Man Humiliated

A McDonald’s employee reportedly left a homeless man ‘in tears’ when he was alleged to have poured Coca Cola on him outside a branch of the fast food outlet.

The alleged incident happened next to the McDonald’s drive-through at The Rock Retail Park by Green Lane in Birkenhead on the morning of Tuesday, September 21. Tracy Martindale, 53, arrived around 11am to see the homeless man ‘in tears’ talking to the fast food outlet’s duty manager (not the accused employee).

Tracy, a bus driver from Upton, was “fuming” when she learned from them what had happened. She told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s so bad. You don’t do that to another human being, whether they’re beggars or not. You just don’t. I was fuming. I was bouncing.” Tracy added: “I can’t see people do that to other people.”

After speaking to the homeless man Tracy went the other side of Birkenhead Park to buy new clothes for him. But the manager of Koala Charity Shop Claughton, Mandy Edwards, gave the coat, trousers, jumper and top to her for free.

Mandy told the Echo: “I said ‘No, it’s fine to just take them’, because that’s awful what they did to him. So we donated the clothes and said, ‘just take them, that’s fine’. They haven’t got much dignity anyway. They’re trying to keep their dignity, and then someone throws a thing of Coca Cola all over them. It’s awful, isn’t it?”

Speaking of when she returned to the homeless man with fresh clothes, Tracy said: “He was nearly crying. Oh my god, he couldn’t believe that somebody was doing that for him. It was what he needed at the time.”

A spokesperson for McDonald’s told the Echo: “We are aware of this allegation and are investigating this as a matter of urgency.”

How To Help The Homeless This Winter

With pandemic restrictions lifting, many homelessness organisations are already reporting a rising number of people sleeping rough. Fiona Colley, Director of StreetLink talks about how members of the public can play a role in supporting people sleeping rough this winter.

For many people, the ending of the majority of pandemic restrictions has rightly been a joyous time. It’s been an opportunity to re-unite with loved ones, go on holidays and live something approaching a normal life for the first time in nearly a year and a half. But, for an increasing number, it brings with it the potential of homelessness.

A number of the pandemic specific support measures are coming to an end and many homelessness organisations are now reporting seeing more people sleeping rough, many of whom are doing so for the first time. It’s easy to think of this in broad numbers, but these are real lives. It could be a young person who’s recently left the care system, terrified and alone, or someone who lost their job in the pandemic and couldn’t afford their rent. It could be a woman fleeing an abusive partner or someone who’s recently arrived in the UK and is struggling to navigate the complex welfare system.

According to the homeless charity Crisis: “the longer someone experiences rough sleeping for, the more likely it is they will develop additional mental and physical health needs, substance misuse issues and have contact with the criminal justice system. The more complex needs someone has the more help they will need to move on from homelessness.”

This is why it’s so important that people sleeping rough are connected to local support services as soon as possible. That’s where members of the public have a vital role to play. StreetLink enables people to take positive action when they see someone sleeping rough. Alerts are sent to the local outreach service who then go and engage with the person in question. This one act could change the trajectory of someone’s life.

How you can make an effective StreetLink alert:

  • Provide a specific location of the person’s rough sleeping site. The best way to do this is by using a map to pinpoint the exact location and then providing a written description to go alongside it.
  • Provide details of the time the person was seen at the location.
  • Provide specific information that will help the outreach worker identify the person, such as; gender, approximate age, physical characteristics and/or clothes.

You can find out more at: www.streetlink.org.uk

Holiday Homes To House The Homeless

A council in Cornwall is getting set to buy two holiday parks and use them to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people, reports the Metro.

Cornwall council would not confirm exactly which venues they are buying as part of the £15 million investment, but confirmed they are in the Hayle and Helston areas and on the market. The council is also buying 12 disused properties and has a further 21 in the conveyancing process to turn into council housing. One of the holiday homes being turned into temporary accommodation could be Poldown Caravan and Camping Park in Carleen, near Helston, according to Cornwall Live.

Councillor Olly Monk, the council’s cabinet member for housing said during a meeting on Tuesday that the Hayle site would provide accommodation for 19 households, including single people and small families, while the Helston site would provide for nine families. He added that Cornwall was facing a major housing problem and that providing temporary accommodation was a particular issue.

It comes after the local authority said it was facing ‘enormous pressures’ because of the Covid crisis this summer. The county has seen a sharp increase in the number of people in need of temporary accommodation, with many landlords opting to turn rental accommodation into holiday homes and a housing shortage.

Conservative Mr Monk said the council was currently facing a £5.9m loss in housing benefit and suggested that ‘without significant capital intervention that cost will rise even further’. He added that he was ‘pleased’ to present the plans to ‘acquire two holiday parks and turn them into accommodation for families in need’.

It is unclear exactly when people will start being put up in the sites and some councillors did raise concerns about the plans, with some of the money being earmarked to provide affordable housing through a different initiative. The full details of the detail were not revealed in public, and were only discussed in in a private session on the confidential report.

‘Change Liverpool’ Initiative Under Fire

A city council cabinet member has led a strong backlash against what has been labelled a ‘dangerous and dehumanising’ homelessness campaign in Liverpool.

The ‘Change Liverpool’ initiative is a new approach that aims to persuade people not to give change to rough sleepers or those begging in the city – and to instead donate to a new community fund, reports the Liverpool Echo. The fund will rely on public donations that will be used to provide grants to those in need of support to get off the street and into new opportunities. Managed by the Community Foundation for Merseyside, the scheme has been launched in partnership with Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Parish Church, the city’s Business Improvement District and homelessness charity The Whitechapel Centre.

But, just a few hours after its launch, the campaign was facing strong criticism – including from an influential city council cabinet member. Concerns have been raised about the messaging of the campaign – including graphics that suggest any change given to people on the streets will automatically be spent on drugs and alcohol.

Cllr Sarah Doyle, the council’s lead member for development and housing took to Twitter to object to the project. She said: “I’m extremely disappointed to see Change Liverpool perpetuating these messages and further dehumanising homeless people. I’m going to be raising my concerns about the values behind this project immediately.”

In a further response, she added: “Lots of councillors have raised similar concerns with me over the last 24 hours and I’ll be requesting that the cabinet urgently looks into the project. We should not be encouraging any degrading stereotypes, the rhetoric that I’ve seen so far from the project extremely shaming and humiliating.” The comments come at a time when the council itself and other cabinet members have been supportive of the campaign.

Others working in the homelessness and housing sectors have also expressed their concerns. Kevin Pilnick of the Big Help Project, a Liverpool City Region charity tackling poverty, said: “Not having this. If I want to give direct I will. Don’t need to be told where to give my own money thanks. Who are Change Liverpool? Not having them just appearing and dictating as if the know it all about a hugely complex problem.”

Those behind the Change Liverpool say they believe this new approach is the best way to help get people off the streets, with fears of more people being forced into rough sleeping during the winter months. At the campaign launch last week, former gas engineer Jay Keenan, who was previously begging in the streets of Liverpool to fuel his addiction, said the new approach was the best way forward.

He said: “Change Liverpool is the right approach. We think giving money, food or a blanket to someone suffering on the street is helping them. It’s not. You’re just keeping them there. It’s a basic human instinct to help but although you may feel better about that support, in the long term all you are really doing is helping to slowly kill them by keeping that person on the streets.”

Crispin Pailing, Rector of Liverpool Parish Church, said: “Homelessness is something we cannot ignore and we all struggle with the right thing to do when asked for money. But giving £2 to someone on the street ultimately helps them stay on the street. We want you £2 to deliver targeted help to get people into homes and into work.”

Carol Hamlett, director at Transforming Choice, said: “We welcome the Change Liverpool initiative; society has become so desensitized to seeing people on the streets and in doorways, it has become the norm to give money directly to the individual. If 100 people beg for three days per week for a year, and receive £100 each day, that adds up to over £1.5m each year. We’d like to see this money collected into a fund that could support people with a deposit for a flat and enable them to turn it into a home – money for furniture, clothes or a training course, therapeutic sessions or detox and rehabilitation.”

She added: “Imagine the difference this fund could make to people’s lives. Liverpool has always been a trailblazer, let this city be the first city where rough sleeping and begging is not the norm, a city in which we recognise that people are worth more than a couple of pounds. Support the Change Liverpool initiative, and really make a difference to the lives of homeless people in Liverpool.”

Latest Homelessness Statistics Released

On 9 September 2021, MHCLG released the latest statutory homelessness statistics covering the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, reports Dr Trent Grassian, research Manager at Homeless Link.

The statutory statistics capture data on everyone who has been assessed under the Homelessness Reduction Act, meaning that since 2018 we have been able to see a much more detailed picture of single homelessness. This is an incredible resource and is easily one of the best sources of homelessness statistics in the world.

However, whilst the Homelessness Reduction Act significantly expanded the number of people eligible for homelessness support from their local authority, the statutory statistics still only capture those who access support from Housing Options services. Therefore, whilst this data helps us understand the wider trends, they will not tell us about those not engaging with support, people experiencing more hidden forms of homelessness or those not entitled to support because of immigration restrictions.

According to the latest statistics, 268,560 households were at risk of or experienced homelessness from 2020-21. While this is a 7.4% decrease from 2019-2020, when 288,470 households were identified, it’s a 16.2% increase from 2018-19:

  • 119,400 households that were owed a prevention duty (down 20.0% from 2019-2020). These are people the local authority deems to be at risk of being homeless within 56 days.
  • 149,160 households that were owed a relief duty (up 6.1% from 2019-2020). These are people already experiencing homelessness and the local authority will have 56 days to try and provide settled accommodation.

Within the 2020-21 stats, we can see that homelessness has disproportionately affected certain communities, with single households, young people and people of colour (especially those who identify as Black), some of the groups where we are seeing the greatest increases.  This includes 119,360 single households who experienced homelessness, including an 11.7% increase in those owed a relief duty from 2019-20.

A main factor in this increase is likely to be the Government’s Everyone In initiative. This also reflects the continuing trend that this group is more likely to be already experiencing homelessness at the time of applying to their local authority for homelessness prevention / relief, while those with children are more likely to be at risk of homelessness. Specifically, while 55.6% of single households were owed a relief duty, the reverse was true of those with children, where 64.5% of applications were for a prevention duty.  We are also continuing to see a shift toward younger groups, likely an impact of COVID, with those aged 18 to 24 the only age group to have an increase in those experiencing homelessness (58,830 households), up 1.5% from 2019-20.

Another group that we know was disproportionately impacted by COVID was people of colour. While those who identify as white comprise 84.9% of the population, only 69.6% of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness came from this group. Those who identify as Black were the most overrepresented ethnic group, comprising 9.7% of those owed a homelessness duty, despite representing only 3.5% of the population. In London, those who identify as Black make up 12.5% of the population, but 30.2% of applicants.

The data also identified some key trends around the reasons households ultimately experienced or were at risk of homelessness.  In total, 31,180 households experienced or were at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse, a 17.3% increase from 2019-20. This was also the most common support need for households with children, rising 13.9% to 15,370. Furthermore, 39.0% of applicants or 104,640 households were unemployed, a 18.2% increase from last year.

We have also seen that COVID has had a significant impact in the greater visibility of typically hidden populations, such as those in precarious housing or ‘sofa surfers’. For single households, for instance, the leading cause of homelessness was family or friends no longer being able to accommodate them, which was the case for 26,560 single households, an increase of 11.9% from last year.  In addition to these upward trends, we are also seeing decreases in homelessness due to evictions (down 73,7% to 8,940 households) and the ending of AST (assured shorthold private rented tenancy), which is down 41.2% to 33,960 households. However, as this is largely due to the many measures put in place during the pandemic – the majority of which have now ended, it is likely this number will begin to increase, potentially surpassing pre-pandemic figures.

Another potential positive trend was the increase in referrals from those exiting prison (up 58.7%) and the National Probation Service (91.3%), likely due to the introduction of Homelessness Prevention Task Forces in 2020, which may be helping to prevent those who were institutionalised by the state from rough sleeping by connecting them with services.

These statistics show how major policy interventions can have a real impact on homelessness across the country. It’s unsurprising that the number of people accessing statutory homelessness support dropped when one of the main causes of homelessness, private sector evictions, was suspended. Meanwhile, the removal of restrictions through Everyone In encouraged a record number of single people experiencing or at risk of homelessness forward for support.

We have seen a glimpse of how, with political will, homelessness can be greatly reduced. The question is, will the will remain as we start to leave the pandemic behind?