Senior Rough Sleeping Advisor, Rough Sleeping Delivery Team, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to be heard.
Members heard a presentation of the Senior Rough Sleeping Advisor of the Rough Sleeping Advisory Team, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
· The City of London Corporation was working closely with the Rough Sleeping Advisory Team to deliver the Year 3 workstreams of the Rough Sleeping Initiative Funding Programme with a proposal being drafted for Year 4. The City of London Corporation had established 19 beds at the YHA during the initial stages of the Government’s “Everyone In” policy and had made a successful bid for £941k from the Next Steps Accommodation Programme to build on this offer by expanding the number of beds and providing support to service users.
· The Government had recently launched a £160M capital funding programme to provide 3,500 accommodation units for homeless people and rough sleepers by 31 March 2021, and a total of 6,000 new units over 3.5 years. Due to short timescales, as well as a limitations around the availability of City accommodation and the need to spend in-year, the City of London Corporation had been unable to bid for funding for the first tranche of this programme; however, there would be further opportunities to submit bids during the programme. It was anticipated that accommodation units would be sourced in a range of ways including private sale, modular accommodation and the conversion of existing hostel or nursing home accommodation. A further London-wide initiative, Target 1000, aimed to support 850 entrenched rough sleepers via a ‘No Wrong Door’ bespoke offer.
· Local authorities had a duty under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 to prevent people from becoming homeless, including those discharged from hospital or released from prison; however, there was a concern at a possible rise in homelessness and rough sleeping following the reintroduction of the eviction process which had been suspended at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Member suggested it would be helpful for the Court system to notify local authorities about upcoming eviction matters.
· European Union citizens without settled or pre-settled status would have no recourse to public funds after 31 December 2020 and local authorities would have to make their own decisions around funding any support. The Outreach Service continued to encourage European Union citizens who were homeless or rough sleepers to apply for settled status where possible, but some individuals were fearful of engagement with services and a high proportion of applicants were not successful. In discussion, Members flagged serious concerns over the impact of Brexit on European Union citizens without settled or pre-settled status and the Chairman suggested that it would be helpful to delay the recategorization of European Union citizens to no recourse to public funds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
· Homelessness statistics were measured in two ways which comprised an annual return by all local authorities and a bi-monthly return which was undertaken by areas in receipt of funding from the Rough Sleeping Initiative Funding Programme. A significantly higher number of people than previously measured had requested accommodation via the Government’s “Everyone in” policy due to homelessness and this included people whose accommodation arrangements had broken down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A Member observed that a number of homeless people utilised public transport as a means of staying safe and were therefore not included in the annual street counts. The Senior Rough Sleeping Advisor confirmed that a new charter had been introduced for the rail network to ensure staff engaged in a more supportive way with those identified as homeless or rough sleeping.
· A Member underlined the need to consider how support services could best be delivered for people who were homeless or rough sleeping during Christmas 2020, particularly against a backdrop of social distancing requirements and local restrictions. The Senior Rough Sleeping Advisor confirmed that work was underway with Public Health England to produce guidance on the operation of homeless shelters and services. Providers should also work with local authorities and Public Health services to ensure the homelessness support offer was safe.
The Chairman thanked the Senior Rough Sleeping Advisor for his excellent presentation.
RESOLVED, that the update be noted.