Everybody In: Ending Homelessness

Date
June 10, 2018
Issues
Organisation

Executive summary

What the plan is about

This plan outlines the evidence-based solutions that can end homelessness in Great Britain, built around the belief that everyone should have – and is ready for – a safe, stable place to live. It contains solutions for the long term, rather than to suit current political favour, building on what has worked at home and abroad to end homelessness. The plan shows the costs of preventing and solving homelessness for people, along with the policy changes needed to get us there.

The plan is designed to help the governments of England, Scotland and Wales. It will be regularly updated and improved as we gather more information about what works to end homelessness.

How the plan was put together

The plan was developed with a wide range of homelessness experts throughout Crisis’ 50th anniversary year. The three main programmes feeding into it were: a large-scale international evidence review of what works to end homelessness here and abroad; a consultation with more than 1,000 people across Britain, including people with experience of homelessness, sector policy and practice experts and government officials; and newly commissioned research from leading academics and organisations where evidence was lacking.

Why now?

There are almost 160,000 households experiencing the worst forms of homelessness in Britain. If we carry on as we currently are, this is expected to almost double in the next 25 years:

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What we mean by ending homelessness

Ending homelessness doesn’t mean that no-one will ever lose their home again. It means it rarely happens, and that there’s a quick solution when it does. This plan shows how to ensure that:

  • no one sleeps rough: whether they are in tents, cars or, at worst, on the streets
  • everyone has a safe, stable place to live: so that nobody is in emergency accommodation like a hostel or night shelter without a plan to quickly move into housing
  • where we can predict homelessness, we can prevent it: so that no-one leaves their home or is forced to leave a state institution like prison with nowhere to go.

Ending rough sleeping

Rough sleeping is the most dangerous form of homelessness, yet there has never been more evidence of how to end it. We should not accept anybody sleeping on the streets. All people experiencing homelessness should be entitled to support, whatever their background. We need to quickly identify everyone sleeping rough and help them for as long as it takes to find and keep a home. Those who just need some short-term help, like assistance with a deposit, should be helped into secure, decent housing rather than a temporary solution. For those who need a lot of support, Housing First is a proven approach.

The plan includes a full list of policy recommendations needed in England, Scotland and Wales to end homelessness.

Solutions in this area include:

  • ensuring emergency accommodation is always available for those in immediate need
  • funding for robust, personalised support for all rough sleepers, focussed on moving them into permanent accommodation
  • making Housing First the default option for anyone homeless with complex needs.

Getting everyone housed

The vast majority of homeless people in Britain are in temporary accommodation like hostels and night shelters, or sleeping on people’s sofa and kitchen floors. In situations when someone’s homelessness cannot be prevented, there needs to be a rapid response that ensures they are supported into mainstream accommodation in ordinary communities.

While there will always be a need for some form of emergency accommodation for those in immediate need, a housing-led approach accompanied by the right support for each individual can ensure we minimise the amount of time people are homeless.

Emergency accommodation should only ever be a temporary solution – people instead need greater entitlement to a home, giving them the best chance of being healthy, having a job and feeling part of society. To do this, we’ll need enough housing available that homeless people can truly afford.

Solutions in this area include:

  • time limiting the use of unsuitable temporary accommodation
  • 100,500 new social homes each year for the next 15 years to meet the needs of homeless people and people on low incomes – including those at risk of homelessness
  • funding of Critical Time Interventions, an evidence-based approach that helps people move quickly into their own home.

Preventing homelessness

The best way to tackle homelessness is to stop it happening in the first place. Where there are predictable routes into homelessness, like leaving the care system or prison, we should do everything we can to help people find and keep a home. Preventing homelessness is cost-effective – but more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

The idea of focussing on preventing homelessness is well developed across Britain but gaps still exist that stop some people getting the help they need when they need it most. Everybody at immediate risk of homelessness must be able to access support – which means that governments need to provide enough funding for councils and other relevant organisations to step in when they need to. We also need to address the ongoing failure of state institutions to prevent people from falling into homelessness when leaving their care.

Solutions in this area include:

  • a duty on local authorities in Scotland to prevent homelessness
  • a wider duty on other public bodies across Great Britain to prevent homelessness
  • funding for local authorities to provide a mandatory set of activities to help prevent homelessness, including family mediation and supporting people to keep their tenancies.

Wider reforms

Legislation

A strong legal system underpins all solutions to ending homelessness. While Britain already has some of the most forward-thinking homelessness legislation in the world, people still fall through gaps in the systems in England, Scotland and Wales.

Our legal system protects thousands from homelessness each year but there is more to do. We need a complete safety net of legal protection for all homeless people, based on these key principles. Every homeless person is deserving of help. They should be able to access help wherever and whenever they need it. Local authorities and other public bodies should have robust duties to prevent homelessness. And there should be clear regulatory oversight of how they discharge their duties under the legislation.

Solutions in this area include:

  • enabling everyone to access help, including abolishing priority need in England & Wales
  • ensuring that a lack of a local connection is never a barrier to support
  • introducing robust regulation and monitoring of how key bodies support people facing homelessness

Welfare and housing

Ending homelessness is only possible if we have enough housing available and people have the means to keep their homes.

We need to reduce the pressure on people’s lives caused by high housing costs, insufficient benefits and a lack of available support. This means building enough homes, including social housing, for homeless people to live in, along with greater protection for those renting. It also means ensuring people are financially capable of keeping their homes. We need Housing Benefit to truly cover the cost of housing, along with ongoing support for people that need it – whether that is help finding a job and keeping on top of bills, or support to help people feel mentally and physically well.

Solutions in this area include:

  • Housing Benefit that truly covers the cost of housing and reflects projected rent rises
  • a new standard private rented tenancy in England and Wales with limits on annual rent increases
  • specialist integrated employment and housing support for homeless people

Costs

We’ll need money to deliver the solutions in the plan, but we’ll be saving money too. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP have estimated that the total costs of supporting homeless people in our five definitions of ending homelessness between 2018 and 2041 is £19.3bn and will deliver benefits of £53.9bn. These are in Present Value terms at 2017 prices and apply to the specific solutions costed in their model.

Government action

To end homelessness, we will need each government to think strategically. They must work across all relevant government departments, at a local and national level, on a shared long- term vision of how to make it a reality.

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