The UK government risks a surge in rough sleeping in the coming months if it does not maintain extra funding it spent tackling homelessness during the pandemic, a panel of experts has warned.
The Everyone In scheme saw 37,000 people given shelter in England last year when empty hotels were used to help accommodate the homeless, according to government data.
Steve Boyce, who experienced bouts of drug addiction during a 20 year period of homelessness, told Channel 4 News his life was “totally changed” by the government-backed scheme and the help he received from the St Mungo’s charity.
Mr Boyce was fast-tracked into temporary accommodation before being offered a council home which the 52-year-old said was the “best day” of his life.
Mr Boyce told Channel 4 News he had previously experienced “very dark times”, but now he has “roots” and “stability” which gives him a “positive outlook on life”.
A ministry of housing, communities and local government spokesperson said “tackling rough sleeping and homelessness remains an absolute priority for the government”.
At least 200 lives were saved by the government’s bid to house everyone during the pandemic, it is estimated.
Restrictions that applied before, such as the no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy which sometimes makes people ineligible for council support because of their immigration status, were lifted temporarily during the Everyone In scheme roll-out.
The commission on rough sleeping and homelessness, led by the former head of the civil service Lord Kerslake, said the government must “establish a clear policy position that implementing NRPF must stop short of causing destitution”.
The also says the government needs to spend around £82 million a year to keep up the momentum from the success of the Everyone In scheme.