HACKNEY’S Deputy Mayor Cllr Rebecca Rennison has called on the Government to deliver meaningful change for rough sleepers.
She has been speaking to a Government task force being set up to look at the next steps in providing support and accommodation for the thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation.
Hackney Council worked fast to offer all rough sleepers in the borough emergency accommodation with the start of the pandemic. During the pandemic many rough sleepers who have previously not engaged with the Council before have started to accept support and work with staff.
The Council wants to ensure this work is not undone as the lockdown is lifted.
Cllr Rennison, Cabinet Member for Finance, Housing Needs and Supply, said: “While the number of people sleeping rough in Hackney had already been falling in recent months due to our investment in additional outreach, Covid-19 and the focus on ‘everyone in’ has enabled us to engage with people who previously had been reluctant to take up offers of support.
“This gives us a unique opportunity to deliver meaningful life changes for some of our most entrenched and at risk rough sleepers,” she emphasised.
“Over the coming months we have a real opportunity to support people off the streets for good, but councils cannot do this alone.
“It’s absolutely vital that the Government listens to local authorities and other organisations working on the frontline to support some of our most vulnerable residents, and does not waste this once in a generation chance to make meaningful changes.”
Cllr Rebecca Rennison
In a letter to Dame Louise Casey, who is leading the Government task force, Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Deputy Mayor Rennison have called on the Government to consider three key priorities:
No recourse to public funds
The Government has to be prepared to discuss the status of rough sleepers with no recourse to public funds. At the moment there is no route out of rough sleeping for this cohort. For those able to work, including EEA citizens for whom housing benefit is linked to employment, we need funding that allows for accommodation coupled with employment support that can provide a ladder back into work and housing. For those whose immgration status precludes work, we need investment that allows for specialist provision by charities that can support individuals with their immigration status, a process that can take months with funding needed both for advice, and for accommodation during this process.
There has to be a commitment to provide the additional funding required by local authorities and partner organisations. Everyone working to support rough sleepers knows what is needed to deliver meaningful change but this comes at a cost. The level of outreach and support required, the integration with services and the investment in both short and longer term accommodation.
There has to be an integrated approach, working with health partners. The multiple factors that result in an individual sleeping on the streets are complex, often involving a combination of mental ill health and substance addiction and in many cases linked to previous experience of trauma.
See letter to Dame Louise Casey here:
21 May 2020