Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced the Government's ambition to put an end to rough sleeping by pledging to work with councils and the voluntary sector to ensure that nobody spends a second night sleeping rough on Britain's streets
Mr Shapps said that the national roll out of ‘No Second Night Out' to tackle rough sleeping showed that the Government would not let tough challenges get in the way of taking action to protect the most vulnerable in society. And he announced a new £20m Homelessness Transition Fund for the voluntary sector to help deliver the pledge.
‘No Second Night Out' identifies new rough sleepers and helps them off the streets immediately so that they do not fall into a dangerous rough sleeping lifestyle. By identifying where they are coming from, it also helps to improve prevention and recovery services for those prone to ending up spending the night in a shop doorway or on a park bench.
Currently operating as a pilot in London, ‘No Second Night Out‘ has helped prevent 135 people from spending a second night on the streets since it was launched earlier this year with the Mayor as part of his wider strategy to end rough sleeping in the capital by 2012.
During a visit to St Mungo's Endell Street rough sleeping hostel in central London, Mr Shapps confirmed that the Government would work with local councils and charities to extend the principles of ‘No Second Night Out' to towns and cities across the country And said he has asked Homeless Link, the national organisation representing homelessness charities in England, to administer a new fund to ensure that the voluntary sector continue to play a central role in tackling rough sleeping.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
"I am shocked and saddened that I still see people living on our streets. I am more shocked that some people still, in the 21st century, see the problem of homelessness as something that cannot be solved. It can. None of us want to live in a society where people are forced to sleep in shop doorways, on park benches or on our pavements.
"That's why today I am making a pledge to work with councils and charities to ensure no one spends a second night out on the streets, and making a £20m Homelessness Transition Fund available, to build on the excellent work in the capital as part of the Mayor's No Second Night Out pledge.
"No Second Night Out is a bold statement that shows that we are serious about putting an end to rough sleeping – which is at the centre of the Government's commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
"This comes from the first report from my ministerial group on tackling homelessness, which sets the bar on the best possible ways to help some of the most vulnerable in our society into stable accommodation. I want to see all communities making it their priority to protect the most vulnerable – and that includes helping bring rough sleepers off the streets.”
Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of the homelessness umbrella group Homeless Link, said:
"We welcome the Government's commitment to work with homeless charities to make sure that no one spends a second night out and the funding to help achieve this ambition.
"In recent years, homeless charities have made real progress in helping those who end up on the streets back into homes, employment and a better future. More has also been done to prevent homelessness happening in the first place.
"With homelessness rising and services facing funding cuts, it is crucial that we don't just maintain essential front-line help but that we make this help as effective as possible.
"The Homeless Transition Fund cannot be a substitute for local authority money. However it will provide key front-line services with breathing space to secure their futures and to innovate –especially in communities that face an increase in rough sleeping.
"In modern Britain, no one should end-up or be left out on the streets. Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring this does not happen – Government, charities and the public. This cross government strategy and the funding brings us one step closer to achieving this ambition.
"We are committed to getting funding out to services as quickly as possible. Details of how services can apply will be announced shortly.”
The roll-out is one of six commitments made in a report published today by a cross-Whitehall Ministerial group tasked with preventing and tackling homelessness. The group was set up by Mr Shapps in one of his first actions as Housing Minister to looking to address the underlying and often complex issues that cause people to sleep on the streets.
Rather than dictate how ‘No Second Night Out' should work in each area, in their report Ministers urge local authorities, who know their local circumstances best, to build on their ongoing work with local charities and hostels to adopt a gold standard approach to rough sleeping services that meet four key principles of the programme, They are:
· Members of the public should be able to play an active role by reporting and referring people sleeping rough;
· Rough sleepers should be helped to access a place of safety where their needs can be quickly assessed and they can receive advice on their options;
· Rough sleepers should be able to access emergency accommodation and other services, such as healthcare, if needed; and
· If anyone must come from another area or country and find themselves sleeping rough, to reconnect them back to their local community unless there is a good reason why they cannot return. Here they will be able to access housing and recovery services, and have support from family and friends.
The report can be found at http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/homelessness/
A new £20m Homelessness Transition Fund will be made available over three years for the voluntary sector to help deliver ‘No Second Night Out'. The fund will be administered by Homeless Link who will ensure that the funding goes to front line services.
The other commitments made in the report are:
· Helping People to Access Healthcare bybringing partners together to identify what more must be done to include the needs of homeless people in the commissioning of health services.
· Helping People into Work by prioritising access to further education and skills services for the most disadvantaged, including homeless people, and promote informal adult learning as a pathway towards wider learning opportunities.
· Reducing Bureaucratic Burdens by reduce the amount of guidance from central government and no longer require local authorities and providers of services to submit ongoing data returns
· Increasing Local Control over Investment in Services by analyse the costs of homelessness and the public services to which they fall and developing a proposal for the use of community based budgets to tackle the multiple needs of rough sleepers; and
· Devolving Responsibility for Tackling Homelessness in the capital to build on work already being led by the London Delivery Board to establish a pan-London approach to tackling rough sleeping.