The proposals in the strategy were fairly encouraging, and included some of the panel’s recommendations. For example, as part of a renewed focus on local homelessness strategies, councils will need to update their strategies by winter 2019. They’ll also need to publish annual action plans, and make sure that strategies meet certain expectations.
There was also £17 million for Somewhere Safe to Stay pilots, which will see the introduction of assessment hubs offering advice and support to rough sleepers in 15 areas with high levels of rough sleeping. There’ll be better, earlier support given to people at risk of spending a night on the streets.
Further funding targeted at preventing rough sleeping – from across several government departments, including £30 million from the NHS – was also announced.
However, as with the Social Housing Green Paper (see left), the strategy is more interesting for what it excludes, rather than includes. The LGA would have liked to see truly substantive measures to make sure that fewer people reach the point of crisis – namely, a reversal of welfare reform measures and a step-change in the supply of social housing.
We’re also disappointed by the strategy’s heavily centralised approach – it introduces numerous, nationally-controlled, disparate pots of funding, undermining councils’ strategic influence.
Councils need to be given the powers and funding to tackle all forms of homelessness in a way that’s joined up and takes account of local needs. This means that local homelessness strategies need to be the vehicle through which all new funding flows.
The LGA is continuing to push for this, so that all government departments can contribute to local efforts to tackle homelessness – once and for all.