In a city as wealthy as London, no one should be sleeping rough

In a city as wealthy as London, no one should be sleeping rough.

When homeless people don’t receive the support they need, too often they have no option but to return to the streets

Rough sleeping has risen by 64 per cent in London over four years, and of those one third have been seen sleeping rough in previous years.

London boroughs do all they can to house Londoners seen sleeping rough, but the waiting list is growing and there are not sufficient resources in place to cope with rising numbers.

No Going Back’, a report released today on rough sleeping by the London Assembly’s Housing Committee, found that funding cuts are stretching resources and there is often a serious shortage of accommodation for people moving on from emergency hostels. Also, support services offered to former rough sleepers can be inadequate or even inappropriate.

Rough sleepers often have complex needs, where they suffer from mental health problems as well as being alcohol or drug-dependent. This year alone, 74 per cent of homelessness projects across the UK have refused access to people whose needs were too complex.

Across the capital there are good systems in place to support vulnerable Londoners, but when it comes to rough sleepers, too often the support services can’t meet their needs, making it all too easy for those people to fall through the gaps.

Many homeless patients are discharged from hospital, often without their housing or underlying health problems addressed, resulting in frequent re-admissions. We’ve also heard how homeless people are 31 per cent more likely to receive benefit sanctions, mainly because they failed to attend a JobCentre Plus interview.

When homeless people do not receive the support they need, too often they have no option but to return to the streets.

During a visit to a hostel in Hammersmith and Fulham, we heard how St Mungo’s Broadway, the council, local police and health services were finding ways to resolve budgeting boundaries that would otherwise prevent them from offering tailored services to those who need it most.

With funding cuts putting pressure on the system, borough connections clauses that restrict access to services and more people returning to the streets, London needs a plan that will provide support to rough sleepers where they need it. We must not solely rely on the determination of key-workers to drive tailored projects in each borough to tackle the issue.

It’s time the Mayor took a strategic approach to homelessness in London. He must support cross-borough collaboration and ensure the right services are available where vulnerable Londoners need them.

No Second Night Out (NSNO) – the Mayor’s homelessness initiative has seen some success in addressing the needs of new rough sleepers, but one third of the people picked up by NSNO workers are returning to the streets. Simply put, not enough is being done across the capital to ensure rough sleepers are prepared to make the transition into settled accommodation.

The Mayor needs to take a lead on rough sleeping and ensure boroughs work together more effectively to meet rising demands. He also has a role to play in enabling greater flexibility within JobCentre Plus and NHS services so that homeless people can fully benefit from these systems.

If we are going end to rough sleeping in London, we must address the needs of those who continue to fall through the gaps of support services. In such a wealthy city, no one should be sleeping rough.

Darren Johnson is chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee

‘No Going Back. Breaking the cycle of rough sleeping and homelessness’ is available here.

9 Responses to “In a city as wealthy as London, no one should be sleeping rough”

  1. Leon Wolfeson

    “Across the capital there are good systems in place to support vulnerable Londoners”

    This was true 5 years ago. Today? With the cuts? No.

    Moreover, changes to benefits mean that people must accept “hostel” places – no matter how nasty, drug-permeated or even far from where they are or lose all benefits. Increasingly, all “homeless” people will be hit with that.

    The answer is not stuffing people into hostels, it’s to change the way this country’s economic system works. It’s to build housing. To provide a living wage and jobs. Heck, to have a basic income.

  2. Dave Roberts

    Darren, it’s easy. Thatcher sold off a huge national asset by the right to buy. From 1979 no government has been brave enough to say no more privitisation of public housing although I think that, even in the most conservative circles, there is now a recognition that enough is enough and there has to be an end to the dream of the home owning democracy. It has pretty much ended anyway with house prices the way they are.

    I live most of the year in Spain Darren, hence my email address of spanfoods@gmail.com where you can reach me. I was born and bred in the Eat End of London and am back here now on family business, have been for a while so I am conversant with current affairs in the area.

    I want to draw your attention to Hackney Wick and I do this in your capacity as the chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee. You may have heard of ” The Wick” as we call it, and you will, I hope, have heard of the London Legacy Development Corporation which was the body that originally took over the assets of the Olympic organisation which had, with public money, bought huge amounts of land at highly inflated prices.

    I am specifically concerned, as are many other people in the East End, about what is happening to several prime pieces of land on either side of Hackney Wick station. On paper Darren, there is a consultation going on with local people people and businesses to develop a “comprehensive plan” for a, yes you’ve guessed it, ” a sustainable community”.

    In fact what has happened is nothing and the LLDC are planning to sell off the whole area to private developers under the counter. Don’t believe me, ask some questions. The LLDC is a totally out of control unregulated and unaccountable quango. The oversight from the three local Mayors and other members doesn’t take place and a small group of unelected officers have at their disposal billions of pounds of public assets which they are in the process of allocating without any kind of public scrutiny.

    I have always found you Darren, as they say in the British Army, a bit “mouth and trousers”. That means lots of bluster and no substance. I am sure however that you mean well but how prepared you are for a confrontation with entrenched interests we will see.

    Start to make your own inquiries and if you want to, get in touch. There are a lot of homeless and angry people out there that you profess concern for, don’t let them down.

  3. Dave Roberts

    See my comments below. I am glad you agree with me, for once. Do support my demand for Darren to launch an investigation of the London Legacy Development Corporation. This could be bigger than phone hacking! On a personal note Leon, have a look at your style of talking to people. I’m sure you’re a nice guy but you need some PR advice.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    No, see, I’m not a rich Tory who hires PR firms.

    Evidently there’s an issue somewhere – likely a power grab you want to try with the LLDC or similar which you’re trying to use my post as as trojan horse for.

    Your posts are not nice, and I believe people follow their expressed views. So.

  5. Dave Roberts

    In English please Leon. And the under the table disposal to private interests of publicly owned land on which social housing could be built is a serious issue, try and treat it as such. Will be hearing from you Darren?

  6. Leon Wolfeson

    Keep screaming that my plain English isn’t English it’s a transparent attempt on your part as an attempt to silence other views.

    And yes, I’m sure your attempted robbery is – also unsurprising. Thanks for admitting it up-front, and your name is Dave, not Darren.

  7. Selohesra

    Give up Dave – Leon’s been on the cooking sherry again – you wont get any sense out of him now

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    I do NOT have your alcohol abuse problems. Not. I know this is a hard concept for you, Silly Hester.

    That you defend someone who does not understand basic English, and admits he lives abroad…he should indeed just take ESOL lessons, but that’s not quite what you said, was it?

  9. Dave Roberts

    So Darren, you are mouth and trousers. You make statements, take your salary, and do sod all. Sounds like the Greens.

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