Britain could end homelessness within 10 years with the right measures in place, says a landmark report by the charity Crisis, backed by high-profile figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dame Louise Casey, and international homelessness experts.
Everybody In: How to end homelessness in Great Britain resets the current approach to homelessness and sets out the exact government policies needed to end it for good.
It finds that everyone who is homeless could have a stable home within 10 years if the measures are adopted in full.
The plan comprises extensive new research, working with experts such as the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, National Housing Federation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). It has also been endorsed by experts in the US, Canada, and Finland who are leading highly successful movements to end homelessness in their countries.
Catherine Ryder, head of policy at the National Housing Federation, says the plan is “impressive, timely and ambitious” in the face of rocketing temporary accommodation figures.
“A key reason why increasing numbers are stuck in temporary accommodation is because local authorities have no homes to offer people.
“It’s common sense that more houses means less people without a home, the government must invest in building more homes for social rent and making land cheaper for those building social housing.
“Housing associations are also committed to playing their part to end this crisis.
“Many already provide financial, drug misuse and mental health advice, and other support to keep people in their homes – but we know there is more that social housing providers can do and we welcome Crisis’ recommendations.”
Crisis is calling on all political parties to commit to ending homelessness.
It is also calling for the governments of England, Scotland and Wales to produce an action plan that, once delivered, will get everybody who is homeless into a safe and stable home within 10 years.
There are currently 236,000 people across England, Scotland, and Wales who are experiencing the worst forms of homelessness: living on the streets, in cars and tents, in shelters, or in unsuitable temporary accommodation.
An average of three homeless people have died every week on UK streets since last October according to recent research.
The plan’s policy proposals are tailored for the governments of England, Scotland, and Wales, findings include:
- 100,500 social homes need to be built each year for the next 15 years to meet the needs of both homeless people and the wider cohort of people in Britain on low incomes – including those at risk of homelessness
- A national rollout of Housing First would benefit more than 18,000 homeless people, by providing homes that come with a package of specialised support.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, parts of Britain dramatically reduced rough sleeping – one of the most visible forms of homelessness.
Parts of Scandinavia and North America have now virtually ended rough sleeping.
Drawing on evidence of what works, the plan also sets out the policies needed to support people once they are housed.
This includes better rights and longer tenancies for private renters, and reforming housing benefits so they meet the true cost of private renting.
Ending homelessness will also require hospitals, prisons, the care system, and other parts of the state to play a role, the research finds.
These organisations should be legally required to help prevent people leaving their care from becoming homeless. The plan also proposes that job centres have homelessness specialists.
PwC has estimated the costs and benefits of the most targeted policies in the plan.
They found that, over the next decade, these policies would cost £9.9bn and deliver benefits worth £26.4bn.
This means that for every £1 invested, an estimated benefit of £2.70 would be generated.
These estimates cover the costs and benefits of solutions specifically related to homelessness, but not wider reforms that target broader low-income groups such as house-building and certain welfare reforms.
While these benefits are acknowledged as significant, the moral argument for ending homelessness is equally important.
Rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence, previous research from Crisis has shown.
Along with the newly commissioned research, the plan is the result of an eight-month consultation involving hundreds of frontline workers and people who have experienced homelessness.
Crisis is encouraging the public to get involved by emailing their MP, MSP or Assembly Member and asking them to call on their party leader to commit to ending homelessness.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past. Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it, and Britain can too.
“We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as ‘a sad fact of life’, because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way.
“It’s been inspiring to see the recent surge in public support and political will to tackle homelessness, including strong commitments from all three governments.
“Now is the time to build on those commitments – with the right measures in place, we can do what it takes to end homelessness and make sure that no one in Britain has to face it again.”
Juha Kaakinen, CEO of Finland’s Y-Foundation, which has been at the forefront of Finland’s recent successes in virtually eradicating rough sleeping, said called paper “quite extraordinary” when read either as a highly ambitious report on state-of-the-art of homelessness policy or a manifesto and a roadmap to a policy that eventually could end homelessness for good.
“After this no one can say that they don’t know what should be done to end homelessness,” Kaakinen said.