Hightown Housing Association CEO, David Bogle, is one of 22 influential experts from housing, health, regional and local government and homelessness charities whose experience fed into a ground-breaking new report calling for the Government to continue the principles and funding of the 'Everyone In' emergency response to rough sleeping.
The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, chaired by the former head of the civil service Lord Bob Kerslake, has concluded the Government needs to maintain the additional funding that it made available during the pandemic – equating to £82m a year on top of its previous spending commitment - if it is to have any chance of achieving its pre-election promise to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.
The Commission was convened in March 2021 to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic, and to understand how the significant progress made can be embedded in the longer term. It analysed the cross sector response to Covid-19, and the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, launched in March 2020, which saw local authorities directed to move people who were sleeping rough into emergency accommodation to protect them from the virus.
As a result, according to Government estimates, at least 37,000 people were provided with a Covid-secure place to stay, along with access to health and other support services. The policy has been credited as having saved hundreds of lives. The Kerslake Commission received more than 100 evidence submissions from local authorities, from people with lived experience of homelessness and of sleeping rough, as well as from and health, housing and homelessness organisations. It also commissioned two literature reviews into the emergency response. The interim report, entitled ‘When We Work Together – Learning the Lessons’ provides a comprehensive overview of this evidence and makes recommendations for the priorities and approaches needed to end rough sleeping which are targeted at the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review.
David Bogle sits on the Commission's Advisory Board, and as one of the founders of the Homes for Cathy group – an alliance of housing associations committed to ending homelessness – is a prominent campaigner for the housing sector to play a role in resolving the homelessness crisis.
"I was honoured to be asked to be part of the Commission on behalf of Homes for Cathy and echo its findings. The pandemic galvanised an unprecedented effort to support rough sleepers and give them a roof over their heads – it's vital to make long-term investments now so that we don't lose that momentum.
"Hightown's own experience of responding to the Everyone In initiative showed the value of partnership working. The team at our Open Door night shelter in St Albans worked collaboratively with St Albans City and District Council to ensure that all rough sleepers in the community were offered somewhere to stay during the pandemic and we were able to accommodate an extra 18 people as a result. We have continued this commitment with the launch of two brand new temporary supported housing schemes for homeless people using Government 'Next Steps Accommodation' funding."
David Bogle, CEO of Hightown
The Kerslake Commission interim report makes 22 recommendations. The key points of these are:
- The Government must capture and capitalise on the gains that were made as a result of its ‘Everyone In’ policy and the partnership working which flowed from it as a matter of urgency, and maintain the necessary funding
- The cross-sector, cross-departmental, momentum initiated by central Government at the start of the pandemic, married with the additional support and resourcing provided since, has clearly demonstrated that street homelessness can be ended
- Future funding streams made available to local authorities must be more flexible and have longevity if the prevention and long term support measures needed to end rough sleeping are to be effectively and appropriately implemented as determined by local need in a ‘spend to save’ approach
- That street homelessness is treated as a public health and housing priority which requires a cross-Governmental approach with co-ordination on both strategy and delivery, at all levels
- To prevent more homelessness and rough sleeping in the future we need to maintain the £20 uplift in Universal Credit and the change to local housing allowance, and
- Investing in better and more permanent solutions such as the Housing First initiative alongside the additional spend in temporary accommodation, with wrap around support is vital.
The final report will follow in September and will include policy and practice recommendations.