MD2214 Veterans Aid ‘Welfare to Wellbeing’ Project

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
18 December 2017
Decision by: 
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Executive summary

The GLA currently commissions and funds a major programme of pan-London rough sleeping services and projects. It is proposed that these services are complemented by Veterans Aid’s Welfare to Wellbeing project, which works specifically with homeless UK veterans in London. This project meets a number of the priorities set out in the pan-London Rough Sleeping Commissioning Framework.

This project will be part-funded for three years through a grant from the Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund. The GLA will provide £182,824, supplementing Veterans Aid funding of £507,537.


That the Mayor approves expenditure of £182,824 to grant fund Veterans Aid’s Welfare to Wellbeing project for three years.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

During 2016/17, 8,108 people were seen sleeping rough in London, more than double the number in 2010/11. Sixty-three per cent were new to the street, 53 per cent were non-UK nationals and 41 per cent were from EU countries. Around three quarters had a support need (47 per cent mental health, 44 per cent alcohol and 35 per cent drugs).

The Mayor believes we have a moral imperative to tackle homelessness. In particular he sees the fact that a growing number of people have been left sleeping rough on London’s streets as a source of shame. The Mayor has set up a ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ (NNSR) taskforce to identify, implement, lobby for, and monitor the effectiveness of interventions to tackle rough sleeping. Chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, it brings together partners key to tackling rough sleeping in London (including boroughs, voluntary organisations and Government).

The Mayor has responsibility for funding and commissioning a range of pan-London rough sleeping services. These are services for rough sleepers, or initiatives to tackle rough sleeping, that cannot or would not be provided at a London borough level, as they are pan-London or multi-borough in their remit. Working with the taskforce, the Mayor has also recently secured over £4.2m of Government funding for a number of additional rough sleeping services and initiatives, (see MD2083).

Most of the Mayor’s rough sleeping budget is spent on major contracted services, such as No Second Night Out, London Street Rescue, and Tenancy Sustainment Teams. These major services significantly improve outcomes. However, there is potential to develop new innovative initiatives through funding smaller scale projects, to increase the pace of progress and tackle a wider range of issues. For this reason, the Mayor established the Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund (RSIF), a grant funding programme, and allocated a budget to support the NNSR taskforce (see MD2089).

Criteria for securing funding through the RSIF are based on the priorities in the pan-London Rough Sleeping Commissioning Framework, with an additional focus on issues that are identified at the time as needing a response. There are currently seven projects funded by the RSIF.

This MD seeks approval to part-fund an eighth initiative - Veterans Aid’s Welfare to Wellbeing project. While homeless veterans may be among the clients of GLA-commissioned services, such as London Street Rescue and No Second Night Out, there is currently no Mayoral service working specifically with ex-service men and women. The Welfare to Wellbeing Project offers an immediate route off the streets for every UK veteran in need and a bespoke, structured pathway into independent living. Specifically, it targets UK veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

This project contributes to meeting the following priorities of the pan-London Rough Sleeping Commissioning Framework:

Overarching priorities

To work with boroughs and partners:

to minimise the flow of new rough sleepers onto the streets;

to ensure that no-one new to the streets sleep rough for a second night; and

to ensure that no-one lives on the streets of London.
Cross-cutting priorities
To work with boroughs and partners:

to tackle hidden or mobile rough sleeping;

to meet the physical and mental health needs of rough sleepers;

to help ensure the availability of appropriate accommodation, including emergency accommodation;

to maintain and improve the collection of data about rough sleeping; and

to promote employment, training and volunteering among rough sleepers.


Rationale for project

In 2016/17, 398 people seen rough sleeping in London served in the armed forces, of whom 132 were UK nationals. This number has remained stable in the recent years, despite large overall increases in rough sleeping. This is, at least in part, a testament to the work of Veterans Aid and their Welfare to Wellbeing project. The project commenced in 2003, and has mainly been funded by the organisation themselves, through charitable donations. However, the annual income that the charity has received has reduced over the past two years and they have asked the GLA for assistance with running the project over the next three years to commence in January 2018. This proposal is for the GLA to finance the emergency accommodation (£164,066) and long-distance travel (£18,758) components of the Welfare to Wellbeing project budget. The remainder of the project budget (£507,537 over three years) will be match-funded by Veterans Aid.

The Welfare to Wellbeing project helps ensure that veterans experience ‘no first night out’, through arranging immediate emergency accommodation at point of need. This can include securing emergency accommodation, buying toiletries and food and arranging for medical care.

Veterans Aid operates the project from its centre in Westminster. The project works with veterans in all areas of London but its strategic location in the centre of the capital ensures it has the biggest impact in boroughs where there is the greatest need.

Veterans Aid also runs a hostel in Tower Hamlets and is also able to access numerous other accommodation options. A recent of snapshot of accommodation availability, undertaken by Veterans Aid, indicated there were 60 options in London and across the country available to the homeless UK veterans who they work with.

The project takes a holistic approach to preventing homelessness and recognises there are often needs which need to be addressed for a veteran to sustain accommodation. Veterans Aid provides needs-led interventions, minimising any waste. Food is purchased when a veteran’s most basic need is sustenance, detox/rehab services are bought in as soon as clients are ready for them, travel is funded only when it is seen in the context of addressing wider issues and training is bespoke to individual aspiration, capacity and inclination.

The previous Mayor provided one-year grant funding to Veterans Aid Personal Empowerment Programme in 2013/14, which provided emergency accommodation to former veterans whilst they were awaiting vacancies in hostel accommodation in London. The Welfare to Wellbeing project expands beyond the Personal Empowerment Programme, with a greater focus on prevention to help ensure that no former veteran needs to spend a night on the streets on London. The new programme also provides funding for additional services to help clients address their support needs such funding for residential substance misuse treatment. The funding proposed in this MD provides three years of funding in advance, thereby offering long term certainty to support this project. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1     The objectives of the Welfare to Wellbeing project are to:

offer an immediate route off the streets for every UK veteran in need and a bespoke, structured pathway into independent living; and

attempt to assist every homeless veteran in London whose plight is brought to its attention, either by personal contact or referral from another agency with a view to eradicating rough sleeping in London’s ex-service community, where possible by prevention and where not by immediate, practical intervention.

The grant funding provided from the GLA will help the project will run for the next three years. One hundred veterans who are homeless or at significant risk of homelessness will be supported into sustainable accommodation every 12 months, with a target that 90 per cent do not return to rough sleeping.

The aspirational outcomes of the Welfare to Wellbeing project are:

a London in which no veteran sleeps rough;

swifter identification and referral of veterans who are homeless, or at risk at homelessness, through operation of a streamlined system; and

embedding the Welfare to Wellbeing model as a pathway that breaks cycles of dependency in London’s ex-service community by addressing not just homelessness but the underlying causes of homelessness.

Equality comments

3.1     Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as public authorities, the Mayor and GLA are subject to a public sector equality duty and must have ‘due regard’ to the need to (i) eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; (ii) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and (iii) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics under section 149 of the Equality Act are age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage or civil partnership status (all except the last being “relevant” protected characteristics).

3.2     Of those seen rough sleeping in 2016/17:

53 per cent were non-UK nationals

47 per cent had a mental health need

15 per cent were women

56 per cent were in the 26-45 age group

nine per cent were under 26 years old

11 per cent were over 55

four people were under 18.

Analysis of CHAIN data on UK veterans sleeping rough in London in 2015/16 has shown that they are much likely than the general rough sleeping population to:

be over the age of 55 (28 per cent)

have a mental health need support need (66 per cent).

An EQIA was carried out on the pan-London rough sleeping commissioning framework.

Other considerations
  1. Key risks and issues

Risk description



Mitigating action


The providers may perform poorly, negatively impacting on the achievement of key Mayoral objectives and the project objectives. 

Low risk           

Robust reporting requirements and monitoring of the service provider will ensure that poor performance is identified and rectified quickly and appropriately.

The funding agreement will contain a clause that the GLA can reduce, suspend or withhold GLA funding, or require all or part of the GLA funding to be repaid, if the provider fails to deliver the project or meet the project objectives.

The number of veterans in London who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, may reduce, making the project less relevant.

Low risk           

In 2016, Veterans Aid were in contact with 411 vulnerable veterans who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, an increase of 389 from in 2015. This suggests that it is unlikely that demand will drop sufficiently within the lifetime of the project to make it obsolete.

The numbers of people supported by the service will be monitored through the quarterly reports. In addition, the GLA Rough Sleeping Team constantly monitors the rough sleeping landscape (including number of ex-service personnel rough sleeping), through detailed CHAIN reports, and through strategic and operational interactions with key stakeholders from boroughs, service providers, central government and others (including through the Mayor’s No Nights Sleeping Rough taskforce). There will be annual break clauses in the grant agreement so if the numbers substantially drop we would review the funding.


Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities

This project has direct links to draft London Housing Strategy[1] policy 7.1: Preventing and addressing Homelessness and policy 7.2: Supporting Rough Sleepers off the streets. It also has clear links the rough sleeping commissioning framework priorities as per 1.7.


Impact assessments and consultations

The priority areas for the first year of the Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund have been informed by consultation with our key partners and analysis of data.  







Financial comments
  1. This decision requests approval to expend £182,824 towards the provision of Welfare to Wellbeing project. This project will be delivered by Veterans Aid and will run for a period of four financial years (2017/18 to 2020/21).
  3. The expenditure will be funded from the Rough Sleeping budget (MD1532), which has been allocated a four-year indicative budget of up-to £33.8m (£8.450m per/year) and has been profiled to be spent as follows:










  1. The funding will finance the emergency accommodation (£164,066) and long-distance travel (£18,758) components of the Welfare to Wellbeing project budget. The remainder of the project budget (£507,537 over three years) will be match-funded by Veterans Aid.
Planned delivery approach and next steps

7.1     The project is currently being funded at risk from Veterans Aid reserves. However, the annual income that the charity has received over the past couple of years has reduced and without funding from the GLA it likely that the project would have to operate at reduced capacity from January 2018. If approved this MD will enable the service to operate at full capacity for the following three years.


7.2     Veterans Aid will provide quarterly reports on the progress of the project and monitoring meetings will be held as a minimum every six months.