Nomad welcomes this report and the government’s focus on homelessness. We are also pleased to see that this is a cross-departmental report, which suggests there is buy-in from Whitehall and those who can action these plans. Both of which are good signs that the Government is taking the issue of homelessness seriously. It certainly seems so, with the promise of £2bn of investment over the next 3 years.
However, there are some areas which cause Nomad concern. Firstly, we feel the Government needs a more robust approach to supporting young people to avoid homelessness. Early intervention, at 9 rather than 19, when there is time to address the issues which could lead to future homelessness, is key to its prevention. Issues such as family breakdown, poor mental health and lack of engagement with education are all markers which might lead to homelessness.
While the initial figures in this report seem promising, the breakdown of where this money will be assigned leaves much to be desired. Just £7.3m has been ear marked for the Voluntary, Community and Frontline Sector Grant Programme. This level of financial commitment fails to recognise the key work being done by this sector to address homelessness at a community level. Especially as this money is restricted to ‘training and investment in the workforce’ as opposed to core work being carried out daily by these services.
Lastly, the Government have played lip service to the Housing First model, extolling the virtues of the trials which have taken place in the North and West Midlands. They will expand on this by investing £200m in the Single Accommodation Programme. Nomad know that single bedroom accommodation is in desperately short supply, and is unaffordable on LHA rates. However, the Government’s promise to deliver 2,400 homes by March 2025 would fail to scratch the surface of the crisis in Yorkshire and the Humber, let alone nationwide. Furthermore, this fund, like so many others, is targeted at the under 25s. In our experience it is the older victims of homelessness who struggle the most with shared accommodation and would find more success in single accommodation.
While there are some areas in which these promises fall short, Nomad is pleased with the Government’s response to rising homelessness. This report and the funds promised to tackle homelessness is a step in the right direction. We will continue the fight to end homelessness in Sheffield and look forward to the Government’s support.