The Mayor of London’s £2.2m Life off the Streets Winter Programme Fund

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 - 1:47pm

Last year, 8,855 people were seen rough sleeping in London – more than double the number a decade ago. As set out in his London Housing Strategy, the Mayor of London’s central aim is to ensure there is a sustainable route off the streets for every single rough sleeper in London.


The Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Plan of Action sets out exactly what is needed to make this happen, including £500m of national funding, and fundamental change by the Government both to help people sleeping rough, and to tackle the root causes of homelessness.

Over the past two years there have been major improvements to the help available to rough sleepers during winter in the capital. Changes to the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) mean that as soon as temperatures are forecast to be zero degrees or lower on any night in any part of the capital, council services will open their doors to rough sleepers. But we know that more needs to be done to ensure a sustainable route off the streets for every rough sleeper during the coldest time of the year.

Each winter, services provided by the Mayor and local councils expand to provide extra help during the cold weather. This year, for the first time, the GLA are planning to open shelters continuously – from the end of the Christmas period until at least the end of February, as well as boosting our other services throughout the winter. As part of our ‘Life off the Streets’ programme, we have launched this new Winter Programme Fund to support any organisations who can join our effort by expanding their services during the winter, and keeping them open continuously throughout the winter months.

All projects supported by this fund will be asked to follow four principles, intended to ensure immediate access to shelter for anyone who needs it, and give people the best chance of finding long term solutions to their rough sleeping:

  1. Shelter is immediately available, including to people who are not usually eligible for services, such as those who cannot claim benefits, and other non-UK nationals;
  2. ‘In for Good’, so once a person accesses shelter or accommodation they are not asked to leave until a support plan is in place to end their rough sleeping;
  3. Sustainable routes off the street, making accommodation accessible and ensuring onward moves making the best use of what’s available;
  4. Partnership working, establishing and developing links between existing services to enhance the support to rough sleepers and share knowledge and expertise.

We want to encourage partnership working between local authorities and non-profit organisations, from small projects to larger well-known providers. This is an opportunity to develop new partnerships, especially those which will meet the needs of specific groups who are likely to experience rough sleeping this winter, such as vulnerable women, couples, non-UK nationals, or pet owners.

Last year over 3,800 people were supported by the Mayor’s frontline services – more than ever before. With the additional resources available through the Winter Programme Fund, we expect the number to be higher still this year. However, we know that decisive action is needed on a national level from the Government to prevent people being forced into rough sleeping in the first place. While delivering new and enhanced services for those in need now, the Mayor will at the same time continue to press the Government to make the necessary systematic changes to end rough sleeping and prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place.

A total of £2.2m of grant funding is available, subject to Mayoral approval, from this Winter Programme Fund. Grants awarded will range from £50,000 to £250,000, possibly higher for projects which work across multiple London boroughs, all to be funded and delivered by the end of March 2020.

If you are interested in bidding for the Winter Programme Fund, we at the GLA Rough Sleeping team would be delighted to hear from you. You can find out more on our website or email us directly on