Westminster Social Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for tackling homelessness and rough sleeping

Morning, Thursday, 25th February 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss the key policy priorities for tackling homelessness and rough sleeping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agenda includes case studies from across the UK on initiatives on homelessness, and discussion on the continued implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act.

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from MHCLG; Defra; DHSC; the DWP; HMPPS; the Home Office; the MoJ; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Homelessness and rough sleeping - the impact of the pandemic and emerging issues
  • ‘Housing rough sleepers during the pandemic - implications for the future’
  • Developing and delivering local approaches to homelessness reduction - key themes from the call for evidence on the Homelessness Reduction Act
  • Tackling rough sleeping in London during COVID-19
  • Reducing homelessness in Scotland - learning from best practice and engaging with the third sector
  • Meeting the long-term housing needs of vulnerable people - the Housing First pilots, the pandemic, and strategies for collaborative working across housing, health, local authorities and third sector

Key areas for discussion:

  • the Homelessness Reduction Act - ongoing implementation, following the government response to its recent consultation and publication of an evaluation commissioned by MHCLG:
    • practicalities at a local level - drawing on experience of implementation and assessing what is being effective
    • options for support - for local authorities, housing associations and third sector partners; such as:
      • with personalised housing plans
      • to build upon the work on the prevention duty, viewed by the independent review as the most effective element of the Act in achieving positive outcomes for more service users
    • the duty to refer - addressing issues outlined in the consultation response, with almost as many respondents finding it had no impact as those reported it helping prevent homelessness
    • responsiveness to service users - the experience of people approaching their local authority for help and how this has changed in the pandemic
    • temporary accommodation - what more can be done to improve its quality and provision, and ensure that support is reaching those who need it most
  • the impact of COVID-19, policy priorities, best practice, and meeting the long-term housing needs of vulnerable people:
    • the Everyone In scheme - what lessons can be learnt from its success, including in reducing COVID-19 infections among rough sleepers
    • work being done by local and combined authorities during the pandemic:
      • case studies included in the agenda - tackling rough sleeping in London, and the approach in Scotland to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping
      • options for supporting local services - and the effectiveness of Government schemes aimed at addressing homelessness and rough sleeping over the winter and spring period
    • the Housing First pilots - impact on the aim of supporting rough sleepers with complex needs into stable, affordable accommodation and what can be learnt to inform future programmes
    • preventing homelessness - safeguarding those struggling to pay rent, and options for increasing support through the benefit system in the face of economic turmoil resulting from COVID-19
    • options for policy - what more might be required to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, support local services, and encourage collaboration across key sectors, and prospects for urgent review into the causes of rough sleeping

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the Homelessness Reduction Act - the call for evidence designed to support its ongoing implementation, the government response, and independent evaluation on progress
  • Rough sleepers to be helped to keep safe this winter
    • government plans aimed at supporting rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless as part of its winter rough sleeping plan
    • the Everyone In scheme - implemented earlier in the lockdown, with a study published in The Lancet finding that it had reduced COVID-19 infections among rough sleepers
    • the Protect Programme - £15m in further government funding for providing accommodate to rough sleepers during pandemic lockdowns
  • the COVID-19 Rough Sleeping Taskforce - with its former head and review lead, Dame Louise Casey, warning that unless benefits were increased to compensate for people's loss of earnings the UK risks a period of destitution with rising homelessness, and family and child poverty
  • Funding allocated for 3,300 new homes for rough sleepers - long-term provision for vulnerable people planned to be available by the end of March 2021
  • the Rough Sleeping Strategy - and progress on meeting the Government’s target of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it by 2027
  • the charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper - including plans to consider how best to remove access barriers to social housing for homeless households
  • recent Guidance for landlords and tenants - from the MHCLG:
    • with landlords having to give six months’ notice for all but the most serious eviction cases
    • but that does not commit to an eviction ban as introduced earlier in the year
  • supported housing standards - funding for pilots in priority areas as part of measures to improve standards, with a new National Statement of Expectations (NSE) including for value for money
  • Action to help prevent vulnerable young people from becoming homeless - new guidance for councils to help them ensure that care leavers have the stable homes they need
  • Extra help for rough sleepers with drug and alcohol dependency - government has injected £23m investment for 43 areas across England this year, boosted by a further £52m in 2021 to 2022

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from MHCLG; Defra; DHSC; the DWP; Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service; the Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; and the Welsh Government. Also due to attend are representatives from the Campbell Tickell; CGL Camden Routes off the Streets Team; Change Grow Live; Children's Services, Hampshire; Extern; Forward Leeds; Hampshire County Council; Home Group; Kent County Council - 18+ Care Leaver Service and Trident Reach The People Charity.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Aileen Murphie

Director, MHCLG & Local Government Value for Money, National Audit Office

Mike Wright

Director of Homelessness, Manchester City Council

David Eastwood

Rough Sleeping Lead, Greater London Authority


Nickie Aiken MP

Member of Parliament for Cities of London and Westminster

Baroness Grender

Vice-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector


Councillor Richard Clewer

Deputy Leader, Wiltshire Council

Rick Henderson

Chief Executive, Homeless Link

Professor Glen Bramley

Professor of Urban Studies, Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research, Heriot-Watt University

Chris Wood

Assistant Director, Research, Policy and Public Affairs, Shelter

Simon Clark

Group Director, Housing, Sanctuary Housing Association

Councillor Sharon Thompson

Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, Birmingham City Council

Margaret-Ann Brünjes

Chief Executive, Homeless Network Scotland

Patrick McKay

Director of Operations, Turning Point Scotland

Hilary Cuddy

Programme Lead, Homelessness, The Design Council

Senior speaker confirmed from The Big Issue Foundation