Banning tents without alternative punishes rough sleepers
published on 7 Nov 2023
The Salvation Army expressed grave concern about the Home Secretary’s proposal to legally restrict the use of tents by people sleeping rough as she believes they are a "lifestyle choice” that cause a public nuisance.
In response, The Salvation Army’s Director of Homelessness Services Nick Redmore said: “Nobody in Britain should be living in a tent on our streets but penalising those that do will cause vulnerable people harm and make it even harder for them to move on from rough sleeping.
“Living in a tent is not a choice but an outcome of a life in crisis. Calling the use of tents a ‘lifestyle choice’, shows a gross misunderstanding of the experiences of people who are homeless. This language also risks masking the underlying causes of homelessness and the lack of investment in prevention and support services as well as into affordable and social housing.
“To end the cycle of rough sleeping, people need compassion and understanding not prosecution and punishment. We know from working with thousands of people who are homeless that the root causes of rough sleeping are complex but are often the result of relationship breakdown, mental health issues, addiction or childhood abuse. However, services that help rough sleepers get off the streets and rebuild their lives have seen the value of their funding drop due to inflation. For mental health and addiction treatment, this has been compounded by a decade of financial cuts.
“If the Government is looking to legislation to help end rough sleeping then it should change housing laws that rule that some people who are homeless don’t qualify for council accommodation, which means they can be left to sleep on the streets, sometimes for years. It must also make long term investment in social housing to ensure there is enough resource to house people in crisis.
The Salvation Army is committed to ending rough sleeping and is calling for the Government to:
- Increase funding for homelessness and rough sleeping services in line with inflation.
- Increase investment in housing stock, especially social housing.
- Ensure mental health and addiction support is part of local authority homelessness strategies.
- Include those who are rough sleeping as being in priority need for local authority homelessness support and emergency accommodation.
- Reverse the freeze on the value of Local Housing Allowance rates so people on a low income can afford somewhere to live.