Don’t squander progress made on rough sleeping warns Salvation Army

published on 18 Nov 2020

The Government must not short-change rough sleepers by cutting vital funding, The Salvation Army has urged.

The church and charity has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to warn that the Government risks squandering any progress made reducing rough sleeping if it spends less than it did this year on homelessness services.

The letter has been co-signed by other major homelessness charities and service providers and sent ahead of the one-year Spending Review on 25 November.

man receiving some food
The Salvation Army is warning that any progress made could be lost if the Government spends less on homelessness.

Recent figures show that a new cohort of vulnerable people has been forced onto the streets as a result of the pandemic.

A concerning 55% of these were new rough sleepers, many of whom will have lost stable accommodation as a result of the wider economic downturn (1).

While the £15 million Prevent Programme will go some way to relieving the immediate crisis, the long-term outlook for homelessness and rough sleeping currently looks bleak.

Many of those who sheltered as part of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative during the first lockdown are still without more permanent accommodation, and the long-term support needed to tackle the complex reasons for their homelessness, like mental ill health, fleeing domestic violence and addictions, has still to be put in place.

...without consistent, long-term funding more people will be on the streets, sofa surfing and trying to raise families in cramped temporary accommodation.
Lorrita Johnson, The Salvation Army's Director of Homelessness Services

Lorrita Johnson (2), Salvation Army Director of Homelessness Services, said:

“We have just turned a corner on the damage done in the 2010s when homelessness and rough sleeping rose as funding for services went down. After years of underfunding, investment increased significantly in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. But without consistent, long-term funding more people will be on the streets, sofa surfing and trying to raise families in cramped temporary accommodation.   

“We understand why the Chancellor has to make short-term spending commitments to tackle the economic fall out of the pandemic, but we need assurances that money will be set aside to protect people from homelessness. Currently we have no idea what will happen to funding at the end of March 2021.

“To resolve this uncertainty and ensure that the progress that has been made so far is not squandered, the Government must make a significant investment at the one-year Spending Review this month.

“Not only is there a moral argument for protecting people from the risks of sleeping on the streets, but there is also an economic argument to invest now to save money in the future. If the crisis is allowed to spiral once again, as well as rough sleeping rising, thousands of families will end up in temporary accommodation at a cost to local authorities of billions of pounds every year” (3).

Currently we have no idea what will happen to funding at the end of March 2021.
Lorrita Johnson, The Salvation Army's Director of Homelessness Services

In particular, The Salvation Army and partners are calling for the Chancellor to:

• Invest £1bn in homelessness services or as a minimum at least match this year’s spending in his budget for next year

• Plan for a secure funding future when he is able to deliver his full Comprehensive Spending Review

Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, a signatory to the letter, Steve Douglas CBE said: "After years of underfunding, which saw levels of homelessness and rough sleeping rise substantially across the 2010s, this year has seen investment increase significantly in response to the outbreak of Covid-19.

"The introduction of the Next Steps and Rough Sleepers Accommodation programmes marks a positive move towards multi-year funding settlements, and has been welcomed.

...the Chancellor should ensure that, at the very minimum, this year's level of investment of £700 million in homelessness and rough sleeping is maintained through the next financial year.
Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of St Mungo's

"However, as we enter the latter stages of negotiations between Government departments and the Treasury on budgets for the spending review, the Chancellor should ensure that at the very minimum this year’s level of investment of £700 million in homelessness and rough sleeping is maintained through the next financial year.

"This though, will still leave a £1bn shortfall in investment to local authorities for homelessness services over the last decade, and this should also be restored."

The church and charity recently published the Future-Proof the Roof report (4), which outlines how the Government can invest now to permanently reduce homelessness and rough sleeping while saving money in the long term.

The Salvation Army is braced for the worst Christmas in years for rough sleepers and is battling to protect people with nowhere to turn around the country:

  • In Inverness, the corps (church) there is serving takeaway hot meals for rough sleepers. 
  • In London, The Salvation Army has opened bed spaces to rough sleepers coming out of hospital, helping to reduce pressures on NHS capacity. 
  • The corps at Crewe in Cheshire are serving 30 people with hot meals and drinks as although temporarily housed they can’t afford to buy food.


Letter to the Chancellor

Read now

Signatories to The Salvation Army’s multi-signatory letter to the Chancellor:

Lorrita Johnson, Director of Homelessness Services, The Salvation Army UK and Ireland

Phil McCarthy, CEO, Caritas Social Action Network (C SAN)

Mark Wiggin, CEO, Caritas Salford

Ben Gilchrist, CEO, Caritas Shrewsbury

Balbir Chatrik, Director of Policy and Communications, Centrepoint

Stephen Bell OBE, Chief Executive, Changing Lives

Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive, Commonweal Housing

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work

Simon Grainge, Chief Executive, Emmaus UK

Patrick Ryan, CEO, Hestia

Kathy Mohan OBE, CEO, Housing Justice

Paul Morrish, CEO, LandAid

Guy Rigden, CEO, MyBnk

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive, National Housing Federation

Normandie Wragg, CEO, Nugent

Jamie Pope, Chief Operating Officer, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) Children & Families Services England

Mark Simms, CEO, P3 Charity: People Potential Possibilities

Karen Briggs, CEO, Phoenix Futures

Andy Keen-Downs, CEO, Prison Advice and Care Trust (Pact)

Abi Brunswick, Director, Project 17

Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release

Sherrylyn Peck, CEO, Safer London

Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive, St Mungo’s

Pam Orchard, Chief Executive, The Connection at St Martin’s

Professor Andrew Hayward, Director, UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care

James Boultbee, CEO, Wycombe Homeless Connection

Lucy Abraham, Chief Executive Officer, Glass Door

Mike Barrett, CEO, Porchlight

Denise Hatton, CEO & National Secretary, YMCA England & Wales

(1) The latest CHAIN figures recorded 3,444 people sleeping rough in Greater London between July and September 2020, of which 1,901 were sleeping rough for the first time.

(2) Lorrita Johnson joined The Salvation Army as Director of Homelessness Services in July 2020 from a previous appointment as the Strategic Lead, Housing Solutions for Thurrock Council. Here she had overall management and leadership of the Homelessness Service including the Council’s Social Housing Allocation Scheme.

(3) The amount spent on temporary accommodation by local authorities in England is published by the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government (Scroll down to Revenue outturn housing services, (RO4) 2018 to 2019).

(4) The report ‘Future-proof the Roof - The case for sustainable investment to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping post-Covid-19’ is available for download here.

Salvation Army officer having a coffee with a vulnerable man

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