Homeless Veterans

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-02-26
Session date: 
February 26, 2014
Reference: 
2014/0630
Question By: 
Gareth Bacon
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Following the scheme that was announced at last year's budget, what progress has been made in helping homeless veterans in London?

Answer

Answer for Homeless Veterans

Answer for Homeless Veterans

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Thanks, Gareth, and you are asking a question which is dear to your heart.  You have lobbied on this many times before and we have made some good progress.

 

Veterans have traditionally made up quite a large proportion of the homeless.  These days, actually, it is not so clear that they do make up a very significant proportion, but they are nonetheless a group that is particularly tragic.  They have fallen on very hard times.  They have served their country.  Often for very complex reasons, they have ended up on the streets.  We have considerable sums of funding to help veterans off the streets with £300,000 for 2013/14 for homeless UK veterans.  The projects include the No Second Night Out project and No Living on the Street projects because the key thing is to stop people getting habituated to a life on the street.  In 75% of the cases, we are able to help people off the streets after just one night.

 

Gareth Bacon AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  The budget for this scheme was secured when you responded to a GLA Conservatives group amendment to last year’s budget.  The reason for the amendment that we tabled at that time was of course that, as you correctly say, the number of homeless veterans on the streets is declining but there are still some there.  The reasons are many are varied.  Often, it is associated with trauma from service overseas and this country owes these people something, so we are grateful that you have managed to find the money for it.

 

The progress report from your Housing and Land Directorate suggesting that, working with Veterans Aid, 447 homeless veterans in the last year contacted them.  Of those, more than 200 have been helped by the funds that were put aside.  What plans do you have to build on this for the forthcoming year to help more of those 447 veterans find secure housing?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Clearly, we are going to maintain the programme and my information is that we have helped 50 homeless veterans so far.  You obviously have more encouraging figures than I have.  Eight out of ten of those have not been seen subsequently sleeping rough.  We are setting up and we already have a Social Impact Bond for rough sleepers.  In other words, the savings that you make from helping people off the street help to cover the cost of the outreach.

 

It is a very complex problem.  You have to support all sorts of agencies that are involved in helping rough sleepers and that is why Richard Blakeway [Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property] ages ago now set up the London Delivery Board and scored £33 million, off the top of my head, to help crack this problem.  It is not going away.  We have to be honest about it.  There are large numbers of people coming onto the streets of London.  The majority of them are non-UK nationals, but that in no way mitigates the severity of the problem.

 

What you have to do is stop them getting entrenched and stop them becoming, as I say, habituated to a life on the streets.  That means supporting St Mungo’s and all the people who are out there looking after them and in particular the No Second Night Out scheme.  If you can stop people getting into the habit, you can help to change their lives.