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April 4, 2022

First step to defining an end to rough sleeping

Greg Hurst

Defining an end to rough sleeping in England

The Centre for Homelessness Impact is working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to develop a definition of what it will mean to end rough sleeping in England.

Five regional and local authorities have been working closely with the Centre for several months to create this data-led definition and high-level framework to track progress towards ending rough sleeping and will be ‘early adopters’ to road-test this approach with the DLUHC and the Centre.

These areas are Greater London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Newcastle and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

The Centre has proposed a definition that seeks to be simple and memorable, that is based on the best evidence available, and that can help to drive forward efforts to end rough sleeping.

It will help to chart progress towards delivering the policy commitment from the Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament, whose term will end by December 2024.

Successive governments have made a commitment to ending rough sleeping without articulating what that actually means. The current UK Government is the first to take this step of introducing a simple and memorable definition.

Rare, brief, non-recurring

This definition says that rough sleeping will be ended when every local area ensures that rough sleeping is prevented wherever possible and, where it cannot be prevented, it is rare, brief and non-recurring. To support local application of this definition, the Centre is developing a high-level framework to capture and track progress towards achieving it.

This is being done by working in partnership with the five local areas who will be early adopters of the approach. The ambition is that the implementation of a set of tested core indicators and focus on the capacity required to better identify and engage people at risk of experiencing rough sleeping will improve prevention efforts and divert them from entering the ‘rough sleeping’ services system.

These include using and adapting existing datasets, identifying missing data and testing options for filling these gaps.

This means they must be able to identify quickly and engage people experiencing rough sleeping, provide people with immediate access to suitable accommodation and crisis services if rough sleeping does occur, and quickly connect people sleeping rough to housing support and services tailored to their unique needs and strengths to help them secure and maintain permanent housing.

As a result of this work the UK Government will be able to track progress towards its policy commitment to end rough sleeping more effectively and through adopting a focused data-led approach, local areas can improve their local responses to street homelessness.

The joint work between the Centre for Homelessness Impact, the five ‘early adopters’, and DLUHC was announced at an online event on March 1 that was addressed by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and Eddie Hughes, the Minister for Housing and Rough Sleeping. The event was also addressed by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Follow the evidence

Lígia Teixeira, chief executive of the Centre for Homelessness Impact, said: ‘As the ‘what works’ centre for homelessness, we are an independent organisation that seeks to improve the lives of people experiencing and at risk of homelessness. We do this by engaging with and generating the best quality research evidence and data in order to understand what works to accelerate an end to homelessness.

‘Like all our work, the development of our proposal to define an end to rough sleeping is guided solely by our judgement of what works, based on the evidence base.  

‘Rates of street homelessness in England are actually lower than those in many wealthy countries across the world. A simple and memorable definition of ending rough sleeping should help to focus minds and accelerate impact across the country. It will enable local leaders, front line staff and their residents to track progress and showcase successes and it should encourage a greater focus on the prevention of rough sleeping.’

For further information, contact the Centre at: hello@homelessnessimpact.org

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