Mayor sets out plans for £4.2m boost for vulnerable rough sleepers

02 March 2017

Early success for Mayor’s 'No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce

Vulnerable rough sleepers – many of whom have mental health, drug and alcohol issues – are among those who will benefit from support through projects allocated more than £4.2 million by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

This is an early success for the Mayor’s new ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ Taskforce – a partnership begun by Sadiq between City Hall, central government, London’s boroughs, homelessness charities and other agencies to tackle rough sleeping in the capital – which helped put the funding bids together. A series of specialist providers will now be selected to operate these services.

The projects, details of which the Mayor has confirmed today, are:           

  • £2 million for a rough-sleeping Social Impact Bond – alongside £1 million from City Hall – which is an innovative results-focussed way of helping more than 300 of London’s rough sleepers with most demanding needs, such as mental health issues and drug and alcohol problems;
  • £1.875 million for a ‘safe connections’ project, to find a bed for people who have slept rough at least twice in the last three months;
  • £340,000 for a pan-London ‘hostels clearing house’ pilot, to help those willing to move into a hostel and fill empty beds across the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Rough sleeping in the capital has doubled over the last five years – this is beyond shameful in one of the world’s richest cities. It is unacceptable that for years some of London’s most vulnerable people have been failed by the system.

“Rough sleepers are at serious risk every night they spend on the streets and this funding will help reduce the dangers they face and improve their quality of life. I’m determined to do everything in my power to address this issue – but while these projects will have a positive impact, rough sleeping will clearly not be solved overnight.

“Government at all levels needs to work with the capital’s fantastic charities, not only to support those who find themselves sleeping on the streets, but also to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.”

Thames Reach’s Director of Operations, Bill Tidnam, said: “This is good news for homeless people in London.  We know that Social Impact Bonds help us work flexibly with the most entrenched rough sleepers, so that they can get the accommodation and treatment they need, and build a life away from homelessness.

“Taken together the Safer Connections and Hostel Clearing House initiatives should mean that homeless people spend less time exposed to the dangers of living on the streets.”

The Mayor has secured funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government to support three new projects as part of a wider drive to reduce homelessness in the capital. Rough sleeping has doubled over the last five years in what Sadiq calls a ‘shameful’ failure of the system.

This latest funding is on top of funding recently announced by the Mayor to tackle the scourge of homelessness in the capital. In December, he set out plans for a £50 million fund to help homeless people, including former rough sleepers and victims of domestic abuse, to fund places specifically earmarked for people needing to move on from hostels and refuges.

This was made available to housing providers as part of the Mayor’s £3.15 billion Affordable Homes Programme, which was agreed with central government in November’s Autumn Statement.

Notes to editors

‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’

  • The Mayor has launched a ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ initiative – a London-wide taskforce to oversee the implementation of the Mayor’s rough sleeping work and funding priorities.
  • Chaired by the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, James Murray, it brings together partners key to tackling rough sleeping in London (including boroughs, voluntary organisations and central government).

Rough sleeping in London

  • Rough sleeping is a growing and persistent issue in the capital: 8,096 people were seen sleeping rough in London in 2015/16 (seven per cent more than 2014/15, and more than double the reported figure of 3,975 in 2010/11).
  • 61 per cent were new to the street, almost a quarter (23 per cent) were long-term rough sleepers (i.e. were seen rough sleeping in both 2014/15 and 2015/16), 59 per cent were non-UK nationals and 47 per cent were from EU countries.
  • Around three-quarters had a support need (46 per cent mental health, 43 per cent alcohol and 31 per cent drugs).

Increasing affordable housing

  • The Mayor’s £3.15 billion Homes for Londoners: Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 aims to deliver 90,000 genuinely affordable homes by 2021, across London Affordable Rent, London Living Rent and London Shared Ownership.
  • City Hall has developed Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance as the first step in raising the proportion of affordable homes in new developments from the 13 per cent in the last year of the previous mayoralty. The guidance offers developers a quicker route through the planning process if at least 35 per cent of homes in a development are affordable.

The Pan-London Entrenched Rough Sleepers Social Impact Bond (SIB)

SIBs improve the social outcomes of publicly funded services by making funding conditional on achieving results. The SIB will focus on around 320 of the most entrenched rough sleepers – which includes those with mental health issues, as well as drug and alcohol problems – across all 33 London local authorities. The scheme will work on the established ‘payments by results’ model, helping long-term rough sleepers move off the streets and into stable accommodation. Payment will be made to service providers with the skills and experience to effectively help long-term rough sleepers. At the end of the previous SIB (which ran from 2012 to 2016, 78 per cent of those helped were no longer sleeping rough.

Safe connection project

This will aim to reach people who have come onto the streets in the previous three months and have been seen by outreach workers bedded down between two and 10 times. Most people sleeping rough do not have a local connection to where they are bedding down: this team will ensure they can find a bed and access services in an area of the UK to which they are most connected. This differs from the No Second Night Out initiative, which is aimed at rough sleepers who have only spent a single night on the streets.

Pan-London ‘hostel clearing house’

Staff at this centralised database will aim to reduce the time spent on the streets for those who are ready and willing to move into a hostel. It will aim to reduce the number of empty hostel beds in London, matching rough sleepers to empty beds.