Housing and benefits advice should be offered to all people leaving
prison to prevent them from sleeping rough or reoffending,
according to a new report by homelessness organisation St
A Year in Prison: A Pioneering Venture in Homelessness
Prevention is based on an evaluation of a housing advice
centre St Mungo’s established at Pentonville Prison in London. Over
19 months, the centre helped 250 people find or keep accommodation.
The report calls for more housing advice centres to be created in
prisons to stop people from becoming homeless and to reduce
reoffending rates. It also recommends the prison service reviews
the system of discharge grants.
Currently, ex-prisoners categorised as being of no fixed abode
receive £94.40 when they are released, which has to last until
they receive relevant benefits, usually about 17 days. The charity
also says councils need to provide suitable accommodation with
appropriate support for ex-offenders.
St Mungo’s director of operations Mike McCall said the system was
failing short-term and remand prisoners. “With no help they end up
back on the streets, reoffending and back in prison again,” he
– A Year in Prison: A Pioneering Venture in Homelessness
Prevention from 020 8600 3003