1 May 2020

The GLA and councils have provided huge numbers of rough sleepers in the capital with emergency accommodation to help shield themselves from coronavirus, in line with government guidance.

But in a letter addressed to homelessness minister Luke Hall, Tom Copley, deputy mayor for housing at the GLA, said accommodation and support “will be needed at an unprecedented scale and pace” once lockdown measures aimed at limiting virus spread are lifted.

“While some of what we need will be able to be secured within current resources, there will be a need for considerable new investment – particularly given that there was a chronic shortage even before the pandemic,” Mr Copley said.

“I am therefore writing to ask that the government pledges funding to ensure there is a solution for every single rough sleeper we have helped during the emergency, and that you and your colleagues across departments are open to the policy changes that are likely to be needed to avoid large numbers of people returning to the streets.” 

According to Mr Copley, around 1,200 rough sleepers are currently being accommodated in hotels and other emergency accommodation procured by the GLA during the pandemic.

A further unknown number of rough sleepers have been placed in hotels by individual London boroughs.

However, Mr Copley said he “remains concerned about the number of people still sleeping rough on London’s streets”, adding that it is his “firm belief that the job is not done”.

Earlier this month, the government said 90% of rough sleepers in England have been offered accommodation as part of its initiative to ensure everyone on the street has a home during lockdown.

However, charities have warned that there is still a large number of hidden homeless people in need of accommodation.

As part of its 2019 general election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to end rough in England by 2027.

Mr Copley said the government’s target “could be reached much sooner” if it takes the steps being outlined by the GLA.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been approached for comment.

Source: Inside Housing