Over the last few months Charotte Bates of Expert Citizens has had the privilege of advising to the Kerslake Commission, sharing her own lived experience of the ‘everybody in’ programme. Charlotte has also been delivering workshops to gather evidence from others to feed into the report, ensuring that peoples experiences are represented at the highest level.
The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping chaired by the former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake, has concluded the Government needs to maintain the additional funding that it made available during the pandemic – equating to £82m a year on top of its previous spending commitment – if it is to have any chance of achieving its pre-election promise to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.
The Commission was convened in March 2021 to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic, and to understand how the significant progress made can be embedded in the longer term.
It analysed the cross sector response to Covid-19, and the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, launched in March 2020, which saw local authorities directed to move people who were sleeping rough into emergency accommodation to protect them from the virus.
As a result, according to Government estimates, at least 37,000 people were provided with a Covid-secure place to stay, along with access to health and other support services. The policy has been credited as having saved hundreds of lives.
In total there are 22 recommendations from the interim report. The key points of these are:
- The Government must capture and capitalise on the gains that were made as a result of its ‘Everyone In’ policy and the partnership working which flowed from it as a matter of urgency, and maintain the necessary funding
- The cross-sector, cross-departmental, momentum initiated by central Government at the start of the pandemic, married with the additional support and resourcing provided since, has clearly demonstrated that street homelessness can be ended
- Future funding streams made available to local authorities must be more flexible and have longevity if the prevention and long term support measures needed to end rough sleeping are to be effectively and appropriately implemented as determined by local need in a ‘spend to save’ approach
- That street homelessness is treated as a public health and housing priority which requires a cross-Governmental approach with co-ordination on both strategy and delivery, at all levels
- To prevent more homelessness and rough sleeping in the future we need to maintain the £20 uplift in Universal Credit and the change to local housing allowance, and
- Investing in better and more permanent solutions such as the Housing First initiative alongside the additional spend in temporary accommodation, with wrap around support is vital.
Commission Chair, Lord Kerslake, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest peacetime emergency this country has faced. It has impacted on every single one of our lives and taken a heavy toll, particularly on the most vulnerable. There will be many lessons to learn about the response to the pandemic, both from the things that went well and those that didn’t. This Commission is about learning from a policy that, by common consent, did go well – ‘Everyone In’. For me, the most important lesson is that with the right combination of Government support and collaboration across, and between, the key service providers, it is possible to end homelessness and rough sleeping.”
To view and/or download the interim report click here. (The final report is due to be published at the end of September)