Prime minister Rishi Sunak has claimed that the 35 per cent drop in rough sleeping figures from their peak in 2017 is “partly” as a result of £2bn government funding “over the last three years”.
But the funding hasn’t been available over the last three years – and since it was implemented in 2022, rough sleeping figures have actually got worse.
FactCheck takes a look.
When did the government invest £2bn to help stop rough sleeping?
Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, referred to the latest rough sleeping figures during Prime Minister’s Questions on 1 March, noting that they have risen by 26 per cent over the last year.
Mr Sunak replied: “rough sleeping levels have been 35 per cent lower this year than the peak, partly as a result of our £2 billion of extra investment over the last three years to tackle rough sleeping”.
But despite Mr Sunak’s claim, the £2bn spending from the government hasn’t been in place for “the last three years”.
This funding was only announced in the Autumn Statement 2021 and the Rough Sleeping Strategy was then released in September 2022.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) told FactCheck that the £2bn funding was rolled out from the 2022/23 financial year, with the Homelessness Prevention Grant and Rough Sleeping Initiative scheme both being part of this funding.
Funding for the Rough Sleeping Initiative was sent to councils on 1 April 2022.
For the Homelessness Prevention Grant, councils were told how much they were getting on 21 December 2021, with money rolled out from April 2022, although they may have started spending this before then.
So, the £2bn investment to help rough sleeping is currently being spent, but it hasn’t been in place “over the last three years” as the prime minister claimed.
Did the cash help to reduce rough sleeping?
Rishi Sunak is right that the level of rough sleeping is currently 35 per cent lower than it was at its peak in 2017.
But it’s hard to see how he can even “partly” attribute that to the £2bn extra spending – because that money has only been in place for one year.
And in that year, rough sleeping has actually risen – by 26 per cent, according to official government figures. That’s at odds with the prime minister’s claim.
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson told FactCheck: “We are investing £2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over three years and this is already having an impact. This includes through the Rough Sleeping Initiative, which is providing 14,000 beds and 3,000 staff this year, and the programme will offer tailored support to those sleeping rough including through access to accommodation, support through Housing First, and enrolment in drug and alcohol treatment.
“Over half a million households have been prevented from becoming homeless or supported into settled accommodation since 2018 and councils have received £366 million this year alone to continue this work. We know there is more to be done which is why we will continue to work tirelessly to help more people off the streets.”