The British government recently announced an additional £100 million of funding to tackle chronic homelessness in Britain. Chronic homelessness means those sleeping rough on the streets, rather than much larger numbers of invisible homeless: consisting of people in temporary accommodation or sleeping on friends’ couches.
The additional funding will pay for a three pronged ‘attack’ on homelessness:
- £50 million for houses to be built outside of London, for people currently ready to move on from hostels
- £30 million for mental health support for those sleeping rough.
- Further funding to help people move on from prison into secure accommodation.
There is also funding available to provide more information and support to help those on the streets navigate their way out of homelessness, as well as the promise of research into the nature and extent of LGBT homelessness, currently a very under-researched area.
How effective is this social policy likely to be in combating homelessness?
Probably highly ineffective…
- That funding is over 10 years – to 2027. There are an estimated 4751 people currently sleeping rough on any given night. If you divide £100 million by that figure, and then by 10 (10 years), the government is only committing an additional £2000 per person per year to combating homelessness. This doesn’t sound like a huge amount of money compared to the cost of housing, for example.
- We have to understand this ‘additional funding’ in the context of the wider Tory cuts since 2010 – which have been linked to the increase in homelessness this decade…. 169% increase since 2010.
- Finally, this policy does nothing to combat the much more widespread problem of households living in temporary accommodation -of which there are nearly 80, 000, again a figure which has increased under the Tory government since 2010.
Maybe this is more about creating some positive news for the government rather than it being any serious attempt at combating homelessness.. £100 million is nice round, easy soundbite type of figure, yet in the grand scheme of what’s needed to tackle social problems, it is almost certainly insufficient to make a real difference to a significant number of people.