Short-term spending approach will lead to homelessness crisis

published on 2 Oct 2020

rough sleeper

The Salvation Army is warning that if the Government takes a short-term approach to spending on homelessness services in the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) it will cause a long-term homelessness crisis. 

As well as the personal impact on those who are made homeless, the costs of placing thousands of families in temporary accommodation will cost local authorities billions of pounds every year [1]. 

The church and charity recently published the Future-Proof the Roof report, which outlines how the Government can invest now to permanently reduce homelessness and rough sleeping while saving money in the long term. While the government has already provided money to support homeless people this winter, The Salvation Army is concerned that the CSR will not provide any long-term investment in homelessness services which will cause homelessness levels to rise. 

Lorrita Johnson, The Salvation Army’s newly appointed Director of Homelessness Services, said: “We understand why the Chancellor has to make big short-term spending commitments to tackle the economic fall out of the pandemic, but he will be racking up a huge bill in the future if he fails to make a long-term investment in homelessness and rough sleeping services. Failing to properly address the last decade of underinvestment in this CSR will also have a massive human cost as thousands will lose their homes and be unable to find alternative accommodation.” 

The Government must act bravely and invest now to prevent thousands sleeping rough this Christmas, and many thousands more being made homeless
Lorrita Johnson, Salvation Army Director of Homelessness Services

The Salvation Army is warning, ahead of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), that this winter could see the worst levels of rough sleeping in a number of years. Social-distancing has meant many traditional winter night shelters face being unable to operate because they rely on shared facilities and cannot be made covid safe. Worse still, the Government’s own figures on rough sleeping have been shown to have been underestimated by around 41% [2].  

Lorrita Johnson, continued:   

“The Government must act bravely and invest now to prevent thousands sleeping rough this Christmas, and many thousands more being made homeless, over the remainder of this Parliament and beyond.  

“The CSR is a once in a generation opportunity for the Government to change the lives of rough sleepers temporarily housed during the lockdown, and to achieve its manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament. This can only happen through a mix of emergency provision during the cold winter months and long-term investment in housing and support to help people tackle the complex reasons why they ended up on the streets. 

“It is only through joined up urgent provision now, like we saw through the lockdown, backed up by longer-term investment to tackle the reasons why people are homeless in the first place, that the country will avoid sleep-walking into a homelessness crisis.”

In its CSR submission, The Salvation Army is calling for: 

  • Improved data collection on homelessness and rough sleeping so that the Government can accurately calculate the level of investment required to end rough sleeping during this Parliament.
  • Introduce a new approach to funding homelessness support services, which prioritises long-term sustainability over short-term single year grants.  
  • Ensure that the social security system prevents rather than causes homelessness and rough sleeping, by maintaining the recent increase in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), so that people can afford to rent at least three in every ten of the most affordable properties in any given area. 

Read the submission on homelessness or the full submission.

Campaigning and policy

The Salvation Army CSR submission on homelessness.

Campaigning and policy

The Salvation Army submission to the Government ahead of the CSR

Further information

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

[1]  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).

[2] The latest rough sleeper count recorded that there were 4,266 people sleeping rough on any one night across England in autumn 2019. However, a similar snap shot survey that was conducted in April 2020 recorded that there were 6,000 people rough sleeping at the start of the pandemic.

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