Mayor doubles budget to help London’s rough sleepers

21 October 2019



  • Sadiq invests £19.2m to boost services to help homeless people off the street
  • Funding will see more shelters, outreach workers and mental health support for rough sleepers


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has more than doubled his rough sleeping budget to £19.2m to help more homeless Londoners than ever off the streets.


Last year, 8,855 people were seen sleeping rough on the streets of London by outreach workers – more than double the number in 2010/11. This is due to a number of factors including a lack of genuinely affordable housing for Londoners, welfare reform, cuts to health and social services, and the Government failing to tackle the root causes of homelessness.  


The £19.2m funding will be used to support and expand the Mayor’s ‘Life Off The Streets’ programme – made up of shelters, outreach teams and support services working across London to help rough sleepers. These services work alongside those offered by boroughs and charities.


Some of the projects the Mayor is funding this year include:

  • Improved shelter provision for rough sleepers during the coldest months of the year, including extended opening hours for the network of shelters run by the GLA, boroughs and other partners.
  • Increased funding for the Mayor’s ‘Routes Home’ programme, helping non-UK national rough sleepers to find accommodation and work in the UK or to voluntarily return to their home country
  • Further support for Sadiq’s ‘Rapid Response Team’ outreach service, enabling them to respond to Streetlink referrals quicker and help people access accommodation.
  • A small grants programme helping to ensure night shelters across London have the equipment they need to help rough sleepers. The Mayor is pledging £300,000 to the ‘Equipping Shelters Project’, delivered by charity Housing Justice, in 2019/20 to replace the previous funding cut by the government.
  • Two new shelters designed specifically for people at risk of sleeping rough that night, staffed by a new team of experts providing 24 hour support to help people facing homelessness find permanent accommodation before they have to sleep on the streets.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “The number of people sleeping rough on our streets is a national disgrace, and since becoming Mayor I have made it a priority to do everything in my power to tackle this crisis, including more than doubling my rough sleeping budget.


“This funding will support a wide range of projects, helping people who are already sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness, and ensure they are given the best possible chance of pursuing a life off the streets. But we can’t do it alone – the Government must urgently address the root causes of rough sleeping, and reverse their policies which are forcing people onto the streets in the first place – including reversing welfare cuts and funding more council and social housing.”


 Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said: “This significant investment by the Mayor recognises the different complex experiences of people sleeping rough, the need for specialist support, and the fundamental need to find somewhere safe to stay for people before they have to spend a single night sleeping rough. Tackling rough sleeping is about saving lives, finding routes off the streets for everyone, especially as winter approaches. We think people dying on the streets is a national tragedy.”


Kathy Mohan, Chief Executive of Housing Justice said:  “The Equipping Shelters Project supports often small, community based projects generally operating on tight budgets that offer hospitality and hope to more than 2500 people experiencing homelessness each winter.


“Through the support of the Mayor of London we have been able to increase capacity across the winter night shelter network in London, increasing bed nights by 25%, offering funding focussed on supporting sustainable routes off the street and building skills and knowledge across the network.”


Thames Reach CEO Bill Tidman said: “Rough sleeping is dangerous and degrading.  The best thing is to prevent people needing to sleep rough, but when they do it’s important that they are found and offered shelter as quickly as possible.” 


“We welcome this funding which will make this easier this winter by providing more outreach staff and more emergency accommodation.”


The increased rough sleeping budget – nearly £11m more than City Hall was spending when Sadiq was elected – is made up of £11.9m from the Greater London Authority budget and £7.3m that the Mayor has secured from central Government.


During 2018/19, the Mayor’s ‘No Second Night Out’ service - helping those who are seen sleeping rough for the first time - worked with more than 1600 people, of which 79 per cent were not seen rough sleeping again that year. The Mayor’s funding will now help expand this service by opening two new shelters, taking the total number of boroughs the service operates in to nine.


As well as helping those who are at risk of becoming homeless, or who are new to sleeping rough, the Mayor is providing £2m to establish a new service for people who have spent longer on the streets and for whom traditional support services may not have helped. These people often have complex mental health and addiction issues - last year, half of all people sleeping rough in London had mental health needs. This new service will aim to give people immediate ‘respite’ through short-term accommodation, followed by efforts to secure a permanent home with the necessary lifestyle support to ensure they don’t return to the streets.


The Mayor is also investing £2.35m into dedicated teams of mental health practitioners from NHS Mental Health Trusts to join outreach workers on the streets from organisations such as St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Single Homeless Project. The teams could also include specialist input from a psychologist, psychiatrist or peer support worker. These teams will provide people sleeping rough with flexible, accessible mental health support, which better understands their needs and ensures they receive the appropriate assessment and treatment.


Sadiq is using all the resources and powers at his disposal to tackle the wider London housing crisis, and last year started a record 14,544 affordable homes, including nearly 4,000 at social rent levels – more than in any year since City Hall took control of housing investment in the capital, and exceeding the target of 14,000 agreed with Government ministers. 

Notes to editors

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