Rough sleeping is on the increase and at the heart of it are chronic and unresolved systemic issues, which have left the country vulnerable to new pressures.
The Kerslake Commission 2023:
Turning the Tide on Rising Homelessness and Rough Sleeping
The Kerslake Commission was convened to learn the lessons from the ‘Everyone In’ initiative which supported people who were sleeping rough during the pandemic, and which led to a 37% drop in rough sleeping. The landscape is now vastly different, with the 2022 official figures showing a 26% increase in rough sleeping and the more recent statutory homelessness figures showing the number of households who are homeless and living in temporary accommodation is the highest since records began.
This report recognises where progress has been made but fundamentally seeks to explain the key challenges driving this trend. The Commission advises what measures the current Government should take to reduce the numbers and what should be the priorities of the next administration in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. Its findings and recommendations have been developed through consultation with its Advisory Board and other key homelessness stakeholders.
Following this evidence gathering, it is the conclusion of the Kerslake Commission that the Government will not meet its goal to end rough sleeping by 2024. Rough sleeping is on the increase and at the heart of it are chronic and unresolved systemic issues, which have left the country vulnerable to new pressures.
By restoring LHA rates to the 30th percentile, enacting bridging solutions that increase affordable housing supply, and improving support for non UK nationals, the Government can lessen the immediate pressures that are driving homelessness and rough sleeping.
For the next administration, it is the lack of capacity within the system which needs to be prioritised, as many of the problems outlined in the report would be resolved if there was an increased supply of social rented housing and supported housing. Homelessness and rough sleeping should be treated as a priority across Government departments, with all sectors working together in a tailored and trauma informed way. An invest to save approach is needed, with sustainable and joined up funding programmes that are outcome-led and facilitate partnership working.
The Kerslake Commission strongly advocates that prevention and system change must form the basis of a robust response as it is through addressing the upstream causes of rough sleeping and homelessness, rather than solely responding to people in crisis, that we will end it for good.
The Commission recommends three key principles should guide the next administration’s approach to homelessness and rough sleeping:
If the recommendations and principles outlined in this report are taken forward then there can be a return to progress being made on rough sleeping, and a future where it can be ended for good.