News: Liz Truss needs to keep her government’s promise to end rough sleeping

As the country enters a new period of challenges and instability, Liz Truss must ensure that the Government’s promise to end rough sleeping is not forgotten.

The Connection at St Martin’s works with people rough sleeping in Westminster, right on the Prime Minister’s doorstep.

During the pandemic, we saw it is very possible to stop rough sleeping with the right support in place, as people were housed as part of Everyone In. For many people, this accommodation gave them the stability needed to address other issues, enabling them to secure longer-term housing going forward.

Since this provision came to an end, however, we’ve seen homelessness in central London start to rise again. In February 2021, 1,360 people were estimated to be sleeping rough in the UK on a single night.[1] The latest figures, published in February this year, estimate 2,440 people sleeping rough – an increase of 45%. [2]

The Connection at St Martin’s predicts that this number will continue to grow unless clear and effective government action is taken.

The cost of living crisis will not help
Everyone is concerned about the cost of living at the moment, and it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn it will push more people into homelessness. Already, we are seeing the effects – the number of people coming to our centre has increased by an enormous 89% since March of this year.

But the crisis is hitting us too. Despite doing everything we can to save money, we estimate that providing their essential services – food, showers, laundry – will cost us at least £100 a day more than expected this winter. We are not alone in this, which means it will be harder for charities and kind individuals up and down the country to provide support.

Liz Truss and her government need to step up.

The Connection at St Martin’s spends a lot of time talking to their clients to understand what went wrong for them and what needs to change. Across this individual-level work one thing is clear – homelessness is constantly caused and preserved by deep-rooted problems in our society such as lacking support during economic hardship.

At the start of Boris Johnson’s Premiership, The Connection at St Martin’s presented him with their Five Policy Changes That Would Radically Combat Homelessness – these are as relevant today as they were then.

To help protect those at risk of homelessness and decrease future strain on vital services like theirs, The Connection at St Martin’s urges Liz Truss to:
1. Increase the availability of quality accommodation with more support for people to access and sustain tenancies
2. Improve access to mental health and addiction services to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness
3. Improve the administration of benefits so it does not hinder people’s ability to avoid or escape homelessness
4. Make benefit levels, wages and the reliability of working hours sufficient for people to afford rent, along with more affordable rent levels
5. Reform reconnection and resettlement through a national framework to represent viable options for people to escape homelessness.

To find out more, please read Five Policy Changes That Would Radically Combat Homelessness.

It is tempting to feel defeated by homelessness and to be overwhelmed by the numbers and complexity of the issues involved. But it is preventable and possible to escape.

The Connection at St Martin’s would be very keen to work with the Prime Minister to achieve this, but she must be willing to listen.

Above all, The Connection at St Martin’s reminds Liz that she is the prime minister of EVERYONE living in the UK. She must prove her commitment to ending rough sleeping for good.