Homelessness and the impact of Brexit

Wednesday, 25 July 2018 - 8:30am

Homeless Link and Crisis jointly commissioned economic and policy researchers, WPI Economics, to scope the possible impact of Brexit on homelessness.

Brexit is the word on everyone’s lips. As the complexity of the situation becomes ever more apparent, there are many questions about what is happening, and what might unfold. With concern that the debates on Brexit were not looking at its potential impact on wider domestic social policy issues, Crisis and Homeless Link jointly commissioned economic and policy researchers, WPI Economics, to scope the possible impact of Brexit on homelessness.

Trying to predict the precise impact of Brexit on homelessness is impossible. However, the scoping work did identify four key factors that would influence how Brexit could affect homelessness and the experience of people that are homeless:

  • Immigration status and rights
  • Access to housing, healthcare, employment and homelessness services
  • Funding for homelessness prevention and relief
  • The bigger picture

For each of these factors, the report found that Brexit raises a set of opportunities and risks. For example, the establishment of a UK Shared Prosperity Fund - set to replace current European funding in the UK - that is more clearly targeted at reducing inequalities in communities could offer greater opportunities for funding for homelessness prevention and relief than the current funding offers. However, how the fund is administered and allocated could work against this funding reaching homelessness services.  The report shows that policy choices made by the Government in each of these areas have the potential to improve the homelessness situation or make it worse.

The report also recommends that action across Government as it implements Brexit on these specific issues should also sit under a wider drive to end homelessness. It says a national agenda for ending homelessness post-Brexit will also need to address issues including, ensuring benefits levels and eligibility fully support the need to recruit and retain a global workforce; providing a new and positive settlement for EU national who are homeless; greater security for private renters; increasing the supply of social and truly affordable housing; and the introduction of a ‘right’ to housing.

By tackling the risks and making the most of opportunities, the report concludes there is the potential for the Government to turn Brexit into a positive opportunity for homelessness. It says that the decisions around Brexit can and should help design a more ambitious and radical domestic policy on tackling homelessness. But concludes this cannot, however, be taken for granted. The report shows that there are several areas of policy post-Brexit that, if not handled carefully, could make the homelessness problem significantly worse, and exacerbate the problems that people that are homeless already face.

As the report says - the hope is that this report will turn the attention of all those involved in homelessness in Great Britain to the interaction between Brexit and homelessness. This is only the start of a much wider policy conversation – and it now needs coordinated action from all levels of Government and the homelessness sector and other key stakeholders to ensure that a clear domestic policy agenda to address homelessness is developed alongside Brexit negotiations.

Read the full report on Brexit and homelessness

Brexit and homelessness report

Homelessness and the impact of Brexit -Tackling the challenges and grasping the opportunities.