London agencies have agreed a new homelessness policy designed to ensure that by 2012 no one will sleep rough for a second night in succession in the capital.
The policy, agreed between pan-London homelessness alliance the London Delivery Board and the London boroughs, means that services will be commissioned in a more pan-London way, rather than borough by borough.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has set a target of ending rough sleeping in the capital by 2012 and established the LDB to help achieve this.
Richard Blakeway, Johnson’s housing adviser, told Community Care that it meant using existing resources in a more co-ordinated fashion and will not mean a call on additional resources.
The approach being adopted is to extend the winter response to new rough sleepers to a year-round response.
Blakeway said: “It’s not necessary that someone will enter hostel accommodation. It may be that the ‘no second night out policy’ means that the appropriate intervention for some individuals is advice and assistance, reconnection or it may be enforcement.”
As part of this approach the LDB is planning to hold talks with the Department of Communities and Local Covernment as part of the coming comprehensive spending review (CSR) to set up a specific pot of money to deal with rough sleepers. The CSR, which will report in the autumn, is due to set government spending limits for 2011-14.
The idea is to bring together all relevant funding streams, such as Supporting People, in response to fears of budget cuts as the government seeks to reduce the budget deficit.
Blakeway said: “There’s a risk in terms of the budgets and particularly the budgets around Supporting People, but we found there’s more that can be done in the current systems to get outcomes.
“But moving forward we are keen to look at how the budget works with rough sleepers. We will talk with the government to see if we can have a pot for London aimed at helping rough sleeping.
“This would give us greater flexibility in how we invest in services at a time of diminishing budgets.”
Blakeway added that only about 40 of the most entrenched rough sleepers are still sleeping rough. Agencies are now working with another 100 individuals.