We have made real progress in recent years towards ending rough sleeping in England. In 2021, on average, 4 people per 100,000 population slept rough as measured by the annual snapshot count, a 49% reduction on 2017. We have only found two other countries with comparable data that had lower rates: Japan and South Korea.
This progress should galvanise us to seize the momentum and push towards achieving what no comparable country has done, and end rough sleeping for good everywhere in England.
That’s why on June 7, working alongside the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), we were thrilled to facilitate a conversation with more than 200 local authority rough sleeping teams across the country on how we can build the conditions to make the vision of ending rough sleeping a reality.
Successive governments have made a commitment to ending rough sleeping without articulating what that actually means.
Since March we’ve been working with DLUHC and five ‘Early Adopter’ areas to co-design a definition of what it will mean to successfully end rough sleeping in England. These areas are Greater London, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, Newcastle and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
The definition we have developed is that rough sleeping must be prevented or, if it does occur, it is a rare, brief and non-recurring experience.
The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes, announced this work in March, alongside the draft indicators we have co-designed with the Early Adopters to test out an approach to better track progress towards ensuring that rough sleeping is prevented as much as possible and is measurably rare, brief and non-recurring, and to use this to, understand challenges and celebrate and learn from successes.
This initiative is the first both to introduce a simple and memorable definition of ending rough sleeping and develop meaningful indicators that can help to drive forward efforts to achieve this.
It’s important to stress this work is still at the early stages, and we are working with the Early Adopters to test and refine the indicators.
The event on June 7 was all about introducing local authority colleagues from across the country to the work done so far to develop this framework to align efforts to end rough sleeping at the local and national level.
We heard from the Early Adopter areas about how they hope to use this approach to accelerate towards ending rough sleeping in their areas, as well as from theMinister Eddie Hughes. We also heard from speakers from elsewhere with experience in using data to accelerate towards eradicating rough sleeping, and from delivery experts in how insights can be used to drive practice and maximise impact.
We ran workshops with those delegates able to attend in person to gather feedback and reflections on the work so far, and to start thinking about what would need to be true for this approach to be embedded nationwide.
There was enthusiasm for a clear and measurable goal and set of indicators, and delegates felt there was a real opportunity and operational benefit in a shared language and common set of data to align efforts to end rough sleeping. The emphasis on prevention was particularly welcomed, as was the opportunity to capture rates of rough sleeping in more nuanced and comparable ways than just the annual snapshot. Delegates also noted the opportunity for the framework to support better working with other agencies and partners across the public and third sector.
While enthusiastic about how a common definition and set of indicators could help drive impact, many local areas have limited analytical and data capabilities so will require the right help to implement and use data in this way . We also heard that clear and easy-to-use guidance to ensure smooth and consistent implementation will be crucial. Areas also noted that the success of this approach will be dependent on services working together to share information which, while an opportunity to work better together, will require better collaboration and good data practices.
We will be using the feedback from the event to feed into the next phase of our work with the Early Adopters - testing the indicators and understanding what might be needed to make the framework a success. For example, we heard from delegates that good quality tools and guidance will be vital, so we’ll be factoring that into our work with the Early Adopters.
This work will take place over the summer and we hope to update local areas on the progress in the Autumn, and will continue to work with DLUHC on how this activity will feed into the national strategy.
We’re always keen to hear from local authority rough sleeping teams who are interested in helping us develop this model. If you weren’t able to attend our event in person you can watch the session recordings. And, if you want to share thoughts on the definition and draft indicators, please fill out this form. We’d love to hear from you.
Rob Anderson is Head of practice and Partnerships at the Centre for Homelessness Impact
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