Rough sleeping advisory panel sidelined

By Dan Peters | 08 October 2020

A government-backed advisory panel formed to help eradicate rough sleeping has met just once in the last year, it has emerged.

Experts from homelessness charities and local government were brought together in February 2018 and it was originally planned that the panel would meet monthly.

However, the last time the panel met was in June – the only meeting in the last 12 months.

Minister for rough sleeping Kelly Tolhurst blamed the General Election and ‘COVID-19-related pressures’.

The panel was originally chaired by then-homelessness minister Heather Wheeler but is understood to have not been favoured by her successor Luke Hall.

Chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, Jon Sparkes, a member of the panel, said: ‘The Government’s rough sleeping advisory panel was a good way of integrating the experience of experts from the homelessness sector into the strategy being drawn up by the Government to end the misery of rough sleeping in England.

‘The panel appears to have stopped and now that Baroness Casey has also left the promised taskforce on rough sleeping has also ended.

'This leaves a vacuum in leadership and organisation just at the time when we need it most.’

Labour’s shadow housing secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, said: ‘The taskforce is yet another example of the Tories making grand promises, but, either through incompetence or disinterest, failing to deliver.

‘We are heading into a second COVID spike and a looming jobs crisis.

'Unless the Government addresses the causes of rough sleeping we will see a wave of people pushed onto the streets.’

Ms Tolhurst said: ‘We are committed to continuing regular conversations and following through on actions taken.

‘We are scheduling another meeting of the panel, which will take place before the end of the year.

‘This government is committed to ending rough sleeping before the end of this Parliament and will continue to update advisory panel members on progress.’

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Politics Chief executives Homelessness Third sector General Election Rough sleeping Coronavirus
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