Fears that rough sleepers will again become a fixture on Britain’s streets have emerged as the successful Everyone In programme comes to an end.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick, who briefed council and charity leaders on the launch of a cross-Whitehall strategy for treating the underlying causes of rough sleeping last week, is believed to have insisted that ‘Everyone In continues’ but Whitehall officials have confirmed to The MJ that the programme is ‘technically ending’.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesperson said: ‘In line with the economy opening and restrictions ending there will be a move away from bringing everyone in off the streets.’
MHCLG later denied that Everyone In was ending, adding: 'We have made huge progress to bring rough sleepers off the streets during the pandemic and this work has not stopped.
'We have been clear with councils and partners that everyone helped into accommodation must be offered the tailored support they need to move forwards and that no one should find themselves back on the street without this.
'Tackling rough sleeping and homelessness remains an absolute priority for the Government and we are spending an unprecedented £750m over the next year to ensure we build on the progress we have made.'
Chief executive officer at homelessness charity SMART CJS, Anita McCallum, claimed some councils had already drawn their Everyone In programmes to a close by cancelling all hotel and hub provision.
MHCLG wants to build on the success of Everyone In, which has supported more than 37,000 people.
More than 26,000 people have now been moved on to longer-term accommodation but the number of people sleeping on the streets is now rising and is predicted to increase further.
Under MHCLG’s latest plan, central government, councils, charities and welfare groups will ‘work side-by-side to tackle the underlying issues of rough sleeping,’ such as healthcare and substance misuse.
Mr Jenrick is believed to have told councils: ‘I really want to ensure you have a great coordinated effort in place by the autumn.
'I want a robust system to be in place where rough sleeping is rare and brief.’
With the Government keen to work with local authorities to plan for autumn and winter, councils have been asked to ‘refresh’ their plans and agree operational targets for reducing rough sleeping.
However, John Glenton, executive director of care and support at Riverside, one of the UK’s largest providers of accommodation for people affected by homelessness, said: ‘While there is value in refreshing plans and agreeing operational targets to reduce rough sleeping either will be difficult to implement without a refresh of the Government’s rough sleeping strategy released in 2018 and without significant, sustained and ring-fenced funding to enable this to happen.
‘If we concentrate mainly on rough sleeping then we are missing huge opportunities to help people before they become homeless and fixing the problem upstream.
‘Ending rough sleeping cannot be achieved as quickly or as cost-effectively simply by putting out more buckets to catch the water - we need to fix the tap and focus more effort on prevention.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week told his Cabinet that ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament was a ‘key objective’.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Jenrick said: ‘Ending rough sleeping is a personal mission for the Prime Minister and me – and we have made huge progress since he came into No 10, reducing rough sleeping by 43%.’