New homelessness measures could have a huge impact – but they must backed up with the right strategy

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 - 4:56pm

We respond to today’s Budget announcement of extra funding to address rough sleeping and a commitment to a strategic approach to the future funding of supported housing.

In his Budget speech today, George Osborne announced a series of new measures in response to rising levels of homelessness across England.

The Chancellor said: “we’re not prepared to let people be left behind. I am also announcing a major new package of support worth over £115 million to support those who are homeless and reduce rough sleeping”.

His Budget document also promised that further decisions on funding “protections for the supported housing sector” would follow from current research taking place.

Homeless Link supports this evidence-based approach and is keen to help inform those decisions.

We welcome any strong commitment from Government that shows they are taking the causes, scale and impact of homelessness seriously and that they understand the invaluable role played by homelessness services. Today’s announcement follows successive years of funding cuts to frontline services, and a raft of changes to benefits that have disproportionately affected people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The areas of homelessness prevention and rough sleeping were two of the key areas we called for action on last year in Let’s make the difference, our manifesto to end homelessness – so extra resources to address rough sleeping and increase available accommodation for those at risk are a very positive step.

However, only with a strategy that takes into account the full picture of homelessness, and addresses the reasons it happens in the first place, will these new measures make the expected difference for people.

Homeless Link's Chief Executive, Rick Henderson, commented:

“The past few years have been a challenge for our members, working with fewer resources in an uncertain funding environment to tackle increasing levels of homelessness. That is why we welcome today’s announcement by the Chancellor.

“Government leadership and action will be crucial in reversing current trends.

“However, it is essential to view the bigger picture of homelessness. Today’s measures need to be worked into a broad national strategy, with strong partnerships between local services and local and national government.

“Such a strategy needs to take into account the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable accommodation, and ensure that those on benefits are not excluded from it. It needs to ensure that ongoing reform of the benefit system does not put at risk the existence of vital frontline services that support people out of homelessness.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with our members and the Government to find the best approaches to reducing and ending homelessness in the years to come.”

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Helen Mathie

Helen Mathie

Head of policy and communications

Helen currently job shares her role with Caroline Bernard, jointly overseeing Homeless Link’s policy, research, information and communications team. 

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