Westminster Social Policy Forum

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Next steps for tackling homelessness and rough sleeping

March 2021


Price: £95 PLUS VAT
Format: DOWNLOADABLE PDF


***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.


Areas for discussion include:


  • the impact of the pandemic and emerging issues
  • homelessness policy and legislation - with discussion on the Homelessness Reduction Act, as well as the Everyone In scheme and Housing First pilots
  • local approaches to homelessness reduction - and case studies from London and Scotland on initiatives to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping
  • meeting the long-term housing needs of vulnerable people

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from MHCLG; DHSC; the DWP; HMPPS; the Home Office; the MoJ; the ONS; Defra; 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 - discussing the experiences 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
    • local initiatives during the pandemic - work being done by councils and combined authorities:
      • 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 in the first 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 accommodation to rough sleepers during 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
  • COVID-19 Vaccination plan - local vaccination services extended to reach homeless groups unable to attend vaccination sites
  • COVID-19 protections allocated for rough sleepers and renters - extra funding support to all councils in England, who are asked to strengthen their efforts to help accommodate everyone who is currently sleeping rough, and to ensure they are registered with a GP
  • 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 - with 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
  • 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 - £23m for 43 areas across England this year, boosted by a further £52m in 2021 to 2022
  • Government pledges further £310m to tackle homelessness - new funding allocated to councils most in need, with an increase of £47m from last year aimed at helping those at risk of homelessness and those in temporary accommodation, and offering support to those already without homes

Policy officials attending:


Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. ). Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from MHCLG; Defra; DHSC; the DWP; Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service; the Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; the Office for National Statistics; and the Welsh Government.


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



This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles