In what was described as a “landmark moment” by the Chief Executive of Crisis in March 2020, the Government asked local authorities across England to “get everyone in”. This included those who wouldn’t normally be entitled to assistance under homelessness legislation.
‘Everyone in’ initiative
In response, local authorities launched the ‘everyone in’ initiative. Ensuring that people sleeping rough, and in accommodation where it was difficult to self-isolate, were safely accommodated across the country. Protecting them and the wider public from the risks of covid-19, it was an enormous challenge supported by the government with £3.2 million in funding and guidance. Local authorities secured hotel rooms and other en-suite accommodation while working with partners to ensure everyone had enough food, medical care and support.
Announcing the emergency funding, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, said, “Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority. We’re working closely with councils and charities to ensure they have the support they need throughout this period.”
Protecting the vulnerable
The outbreak last spring prompted an unprecedented public health response to protect the most vulnerable. Rough sleepers are more likely to have underlying health conditions. They can also face difficulties in following public health advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hygiene. Not only do they face a challenge following the guidance, they also face barriers in accessing public health information and adequate healthcare. Shared facilities used by rough sleepers – such as day centres and night shelters, can increase transmission.
The government has allocated over £700 million funding in 2020/21 to support rough sleepers and those at risk. In April 2020, the government had reported that over 90% of known rough sleepers in England had been offered accommodation as a result of the ‘everyone in’ initiative. By November 2020, over 20,000 people had moved into settled accommodation or supported housing. Although, homelessness organisations have reported that a flow of new rough sleepers has continued throughout the pandemic and demand in their services has increased.
Local authorities welcomed the additional emergency funding to help them in response to the outbreak. However, the level of funding for homelessness services still remains a concern. The LGA criticised the short-term, fragmented and resource-intensive competitive nature of the current funding. Calling for long-term and sustainable homelessness funding. The availability of suitable move-on accommodation also remains a concern. Stakeholders have called for further measures to prevent homelessness. This includes more housing nationally, improvements to the UK welfare system, protections for private renters and increased investment in social housing.
Meanwhile housing as a solution?
Though simply increasing the amount of new homes won’t solve the issue. There’s a reluctance to move to modern methods of construction, despite the speed and sustainability benefits. But with traditional builds, planning is a particularly long and notoriously difficult process. ‘Meanwhile housing’ provides a temporary solution and much needed homes while an area sits vacant. Meaning families and rough sleepers can live in nicer housing while they wait for more permanent homes.
Do you need help building homes in your area? Reach out and see how we can help. Find out more about the homes we’ve built and the councils we’ve helped on our case studies page.