Homelessness services maintaining essential help despite challenges

Thursday, 5 March 2015 - 11:59pm

A survey of front-line homeless services in England indicates that, despite funding challenges, charities are maintaining essential support for thousands of single adults facing homelessness.

The research, using data from hundreds of homeless services, indicates that 4 in 10 services saw their funding decrease in 2013. Despite this, 8 in 10 of those who had had their funding reduced reported being able to support the same number of clients.

Overall, the homeless sector also reported improved outcomes for those they support. 34% of clients are engaged in education or training, up from 23% in 2013. While 14% of clients were supported into paid employment, up from 10% in 2013.

Support for Single Homeless People in England, Homeless Link’s annual survey of homelessness services across England, highlights the critical role of front-line services and the diverse range of support they provide.

Accommodation services and day centres help people develop new skills, manage health and address other issues. This year’s report found that:

  • 99% of services offer personalised support, an increase of 24% from 2013. This is most commonly in the form of life skills like budgeting, cooking and addressing wellbeing
  • 42% of projects offer shared accommodation schemes; 41% offer rent deposit/bond schemes

However, the review also highlights a number of challenges when it comes to supporting homeless adults. These include:

  • A reduction in services and bed spaces: bed space numbers having fallen 16% since 2010.
  • Significant difficulties in accessing move-on accommodation: 48% of projects identifying this as the main barrier they face.
  • Services finding it more difficult to support individuals with the most complex needs: 76% of accommodation projects had refused access due to the client needs being too high; 55% because client’s needs were too complex.
  • Welfare reform impacting on services ability to help people who are homeless: six in ten services reported that the proportion of clients having their benefits stopped or reduced has increased since 2013.

Rick Henderson, Homeless Link’s Chief Executive, said:

“It is a credit to the resilience and creativity of the sector that services continue to support so many people towards leaving homelessness behind. However, this year’s report highlights that external factors such as funding pressures and welfare changes are placing increasing strain on their ability to do this vital work.”

“We urge the next government to work with us and the homelessness sector to ensure people experiencing homelessness are supported to achieve their employment and housing aspirations, and avoid falling into destitution.”

Support for Single Homeless People in England is based on interviews and surveys with 357 accommodation projects and 104 day centre projects, with data from an additional 250 accommodation projects.

Single homelessness support in England: Annual Review 2015

Our 2015 review of the sector looks at the capacity, support and services available to people who become homeless in England, the changing nature of demand for those services, as well as funding and changes to provision.