Government funding to help rough sleepers is “nowhere near enough” to make up for rising living costs and soaring rents, homeless charities have said.
An additional £34.6 million pledged will not offset the decrease in funding experienced by homelessness accommodation providers in recent years, the chief executive of one charity said.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced the funding on Monday to provide up to 4,300 additional beds to help people off the streets.
The latest support package is on top of the original allocation of up to £500 million over three years, announced earlier this year, which has “already helped to provide 14,000 beds for rough sleepers”, the DLUHC said.
But Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said: “While it’s positive to see the Westminster Government providing funding to support people sleeping rough, it is the bare minimum of what’s required.
“All forms of homelessness are increasing.
“A combination of rising living costs, soaring rents and huge demand for properties is leaving households across Britain unable to find or keep an affordable home.
“To tackle rough sleeping for good, we need to see decisive action that prevents people from losing their homes in the first place – this includes urgent investment in housing benefit so it covers the cheapest of rents.
“The emphasis must be on tackling rather than ‘managing’ homelessness.
“Truly affordable homes, rather than beds, are desperately needed – without this, people who are helped off the streets run the risk of being forced to return as there is simply nowhere affordable for them to live long-term.”
Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, a charity representing frontline homelessness services, said the new funding will not be enough to offset the prolonged pressure of inflation experienced by homelessness accommodation providers.
He said: “Everyone deserves a safe place to live and the support they need to keep it. But rough sleeping rose by 26% in 2022, the biggest year-on-year percentage rise since 2015.
“Homelessness services have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis, so any support for the sector is welcome.
“However, our research found almost a quarter of homelessness accommodation providers have seen a decrease in funding since 2021, with a further 56% reporting no change in funding despite prolonged inflation. Many have scaled back or even closed down as a result, with this funding nowhere near enough to plug the gap.
“The Government must act to turn off the tap of homelessness in the first place. Its refusal to raise the Local Housing Allowance rate means there are very few affordable homes for people on low incomes, while the delays to reforming the private rented sector mean the millions of households who rent privately can still be evicted through no fault of their own, the biggest cause of homelessness in recent years.”
The DLUHC announced the new funding to mark a year since the launch of the cross-government rough sleeping strategy.
Minister for rough sleeping Felicity Buchan said: “One year on from the launch of our ground-breaking strategy we remain as committed as ever to ending rough sleeping.
“The full weight of government remains behind this very important pledge, and this can be seen in today’s funding boost to provide thousands more beds and hundreds more support staff into the heart of communities where they are most needed.”