No-one should ever be put in a position where sleeping rough feels like their only option. Yet, the number of rough sleepers in England almost doubled between 2013 and 2018 and has risen by 12 per cent in Wales in the last two years.
Governments at all levels, alongside their cross-sector partners, have stepped up efforts to eradicate rough sleeping in recent years, but it will take time, sustained commitment and longterm investment for initiatives to have their desired impact. Complex policy challenges have no easy solutions, and there are few challenges more complex and wide-ranging than those comprised in the issue of rough sleeping.
For this reason, the Cities in Action Commission, which was launched in summer 2019 by the Key Cities Group, decided to focus its study of international responses to prevent and eradicate rough sleeping on three themes. The themes are: support for people who are sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough; enabling rough sleepers to shape their own support; and supply of affordable homes.
Based on the research presented in this report, the Cities in Action Commission proposes that the UK and devolved governments work with mid-sized cities and places to trial a series of policies, initiatives and collaborations with a greater placebased focus, all designed to prevent rough sleeping and support people currently sleeping rough to leave the streets for good. These should involve:
- A new Housing Deal for midsized cities and places, working with Key Cities as pilot areas to ensure that housing policy and funding mechanisms are sufficiently robust and flexible to allow local authorities and partners to address the specific housing challenges of their area. This should include flexibility over Local Housing Allowance rates, measures to improve rough sleepers’ access to housing registers, and powers to re-invest money from the sale of homes through Right to Buy into new social housing (in England).
- Housing First pilots in the UK’s mid-sized cities and places, and trials of other forms of onestop-shop centres and escalator accommodation that provide holistic support to help keep rough sleepers and people at risk of rough sleeping away from the streets permanently.
- Technology-centred pilots to match the needs of rough sleepers with the generosity of members of the public, which would include working with mid-sized cities’ councils, universities, partners and people with lived experience of or at risk of rough sleeping to develop ideas for new technology and funding to develop and test prototypes.