No one turned away
What's the problem?
It is shocking that in the 21st century there is no right to shelter - a single homeless person can approach their council for help and still be turned away to sleep on the streets.
Most single homeless people are not considered to be in ‘priority need’ for social housing, meaning that the council has no duty to find them accommodation.
Although they should get meaningful advice and assistance from their council, Crisis' recent research shows too often single homeless people are given little help or turned away with none at all.
The consequences of councils failing to intervene early can be devastating and can cause people to fall deeper into homelessness. The answer is to change the law so that all homeless people get the help they need.
What is Crisis calling for?
We demand that:
The Government strengthen the law so that no one is forced to sleep rough
All single homeless people have the right to receive written advice, real assistance and emergency accommodation when they need it
What have we been doing?
Together with our supporters we have been campaigning hard for a change in the law:
- More than 11,300 people signed our 'No one turned away' petition
- More than 2,000 of our volunteers signed a letter to David Cameron
- More than 1,500 people emailed the then Housing Minister, Grant Shapps - you can still read his response
- 156 MPs signed our Early Day Motion in Parliament after more than 2,800 of our campaigners emailed their MP asking them to sign
What have we achieved?
Whilst the government has not changed the law, in December 2011 ministers announced £20m of funding to help councils tackle single homelessness.
It is a big step forward that the government now accepts there is a problem and wants to tackle it. But they need to do more and we must not stop our campaigning.
We know from experience that money is not enough; we need a legal duty on local authorities to provide the advice and assistance that single homeless people need.
We will continue to campaign for a change in the law to ensure that all single homeless people get the help that they need from their councils.
Watch our campaign film
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What has the Minister said?
The then Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, replied to some of our campaigners who wrote to him about our No One Turned Away campaign. You can see his reply below.
While we were pleased the Minister acknowledged more needs to be done to improve the advice and support offered to single homeless people in his letter, it is disappointing that he stated 'I do not envisage further legislative change'.
The Minister's reply:
Thank you for your recent letter/email.
I do not believe that anyone should have to sleep rough in the 21st century. Clearly local authorities play a key role in helping to prevent people ending up on the streets in the first place. They are required to provide advice and assistance and I do not envisage further legislative change.
However, I recognise that some ought to do more and I want to encourage all local authorities to raise their game. That is why I have made available an additional £70 million to tackle homelessness and prevent repossessions. This includes £18.5 million to help local authorities ensure single homeless people get access to good housing advice and a £20 million Homelessness Transition Fund to support the national roll-out of No Second Night Out. My officials are closely involved with Crisis on monitoring the £18.5 million funding to ensure that it provides real help to the single homeless.
This additional funding is on top of the existing £12.5 million provided to Crisis to help single people access private rented sector accommodation. This scheme has got off to a strong start and this year should help nearly 4,000 single people into a tenancy in the private rented sector.
In terms of aiming high on rough sleeping, I want all local authorities to adopt the No Second Night Out standard so no one new to the streets has to spend a second night. Indeed this is a commitment of my Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness supported by the £20 million Homelessness Transition Fund. We have maintained funding for Homelessness Grant at 2010/11 levels with £400 million over the next 4 years. And Supporting People investment – at £6.5 billion over the Spending Review period – will protect the preventative services that help the most vulnerable live independently and retain their tenancies.
I am personally strongly committed to ending homelessness which is why I set up the Ministerial Working Group, having previously run the Homelessness Foundation whilst in opposition. The Ministerial Working Group ensures that the rest of Government plays its part both in tackling homelessness. Our second report will set out how central Government will work with local authorities, local agencies and other partners to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place. It is expected to be published shortly.
Minister of State for Housing and Local Government