Tuesday 3 November 2020 / 8:54 AM Housing / Thangam Debbonaire

Labour calls for a repeat of ‘Everyone In’ to protect rough sleepers this winter

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire has written to her counterpart Robert Jenrick calling on him to re-start the ‘Everyone In’ initiative that began in March.

Efforts by local authorities and charities earlier this year helped 15,000 rough sleepers off the streets. However the flow of people newly becoming homeless or rough sleeping has not stopped. Recent data from London revealed that 3,444 people had been sleeping rough between July and September this year, with 1,901 people sleeping rough for the first time. Homelessness charities report a similar picture across the country.

 

In her letter, Ms Debbonaire writes:

“The ‘Everyone In’ initiative in March was an incredible achievement by councils and charities, which saved hundreds of lives. A repeat of this success will require strong leadership and effective co-ordination from central Government.

“As we head into a second lockdown, the Government must urgently re-start ‘Everyone In’ to protect rough sleepers from a cold, dangerous winter.”

Ms Debbonaire also highlights the need for clear rules on the use of self-contained accommodation rather than communal night shelters, and calls on the Government to suspend no recourse to public funds, to ensure that all rough sleepers can access support.

 

 

Full letter to Robert Jenrick

 

Dear Robert,

 

I’m writing to seek clarity on the support you will providing to rough sleepers and other people experiencing homelessness this winter.

 

On Saturday, the Prime Minister said: “from Thursday until the start of December, you must stay at home.” For this to happen, it is essential that everyone has a safe place to call home.

 

The ‘Everyone In’ initiative in March was an incredible achievement by councils and charities, which saved hundreds of lives. A repeat of this success will require strong leadership and effective co-ordination from central Government.

 

The flow of rough sleepers onto the streets has not stopped since March. Recent data for London revealed that 3 444 people had been sleeping rough between July and September this year, with 1,901 people sleeping rough for the first time. The number of young rough sleepers has increased by half.

 

As we head into a second lockdown, the Government must urgently re-start ‘Everyone In’, to protect rough sleepers from a cold, dangerous winter. Will you issue clear instruction from central Government that everyone should be brought in off the streets, and provide appropriate support for local authorities to achieve this?

 

Recent guidance on the use of night shelters set out that, although self-contained accommodation should be the ‘default’, communal night shelters may be permitted to open. Will you publish the advice you received from Public Health England on this point? Nobody should have to choose between a potentially unsafe communal shelter and spending the night on the streets. Given the current rates of Covid-19, will you revise this guidance to clarify that only self-contained accommodation should be used, and provide local authorities with the support to achieve this?

 

Finally, the first ‘Everyone In’ was a clear statement that, no matter someone’s immigration status, they should be brought in off the streets. Will you lift No Recourse to Public Funds, and ensure that everybody is helped off the streets, as happened in March?

 

I look forward to an urgent response to my letter. I would be grateful for the chance to meet you to discuss these concerns.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Thangam Debbonaire