Have your say

week’s Have your
say debate focuses on the government’s learning
difficulties white paper Valuing People and whether it will prove to be

a lack of resources threatening attempts to implement the policies and
guidance? Have your say in Community Care’s online discussion forum by clicking
. The deadline for responses is January 24.

are the responses we received to the debate on rough sleepers and the government’s
claim that the number has reduced by two thirds:

was involved in the street count in central London in December 2001, and can
confirm that numbers out that night were significantly lower than we have seen
before. I don’t think manipulation of the figures would account for the visible
changes I saw, although I am concerned that not all the moves inside will last

think the focus on the single night counts is a bit misleading, because these
are only a snapshot of the most visible part of the rough sleeping population.
No-one is suggesting that these counts provide the total picture – but they
have proved to be a useful indication of the wider problem. There is a great
deal of more detailed information available to the rough sleepers unit which
shows how many people have been worked with overall by the "CAT"
outreach teams, and how many people have been helped off the streets and into

figures show that the RSU strategy has done a lot of good, but has yet to solve
the root causes of why people become homeless and why so many people come in
and out of homelessness, never achieving stability or independence.

bigger prevention issues are the real challenge which the government is
beginning to address through the Homelessness Bill and the new homelessness
division within DTLR. Continued debate about the validity of street count
figures is taking attention away from the most important issues, which are how
solutions to rough sleeping can be made sustainable and how we can prevent
homelessness in the first place."


development manager, housing and social services, Royal Borough of Kensington
and Chelsea

a designated rough sleeper area, we did feel under pressure earlier last year
to find no rough sleepers, but actually when it came to the count, the RSU
representative was keen to be accurate and to find anybody who was sleeping

York at least, the RSU funding has made a huge difference to what we can do for
rough sleepers, including their funding of a night hostel to add to our
existing hostel. Our concern is that the headline reduction by 2/3rds will be
seen as no further need for funding. In reality, most people are no longer
having to sleep on the street, but are still not able to live successfully in a
tenancy. Therefore funding of shelter beds needs to be continued, but funding
to resettle customers into independent living needs to be increased and
concentrated on. Otherwise we achieve keeping people off the streets but can’t
move them on. In time, of course, with no throughput to independence, the
shelter beds become blocked and we are back to having people sleeping on the

lack of firm funding decisions is already putting existing services at risk and
we would encourage the RSU to make future funding clear as early as possible
before services have to close for lack of committed funding."


of advice and housing assessments, York council

do not think it is true that the number of rough sleepers in London has reduced
as much as the RSU are claiming."


the government’s ‘rough sleepers initiative’ has been such a success why are
there still so many rough sleepers in London, alone? I live and work in London,
I also work in social services and see that the problem of rough sleepers has
not diminished as the government claim. Everywhere I go in London there are
people bedding down for the night in shop doorways or on park benches. I find
it disgusting!

government spends all its energy and tax payers money on interfering with how
other countries should live, and decides on what’s civilised and what’s not! I
believe that every human being has a right to the basic protection of a roof,
floor and four walls. Quite frankly I think Tony Blair needs to spend more time
in the community and see how the other half lives!! The gap between the rich
and poor is no more evident than the difference between north and south

a student of government policy I have researched into the issues of homelessness
and what responsibility the government has, it has been clearly evident that
central government is placing more and more pressure on other organisations to
intervene, such as the Church, voluntary organisations and the private sector.
London social housing is predominately monopolised by housing associations who
are often so disorganised!!

government has a responsibility to ensure all human beings living on this land
receive the opportunity to housing. It is a basic human right, such as right to
food and water!!"






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