The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has doubled the budget for spending on rough sleepers, since he came into office.
An annual spend of £19.2m has been announced to boost services helping people off the city's streets, in a bid to tackle spiralling homelessness. When Khan assumed the role of mayor in 2016, just £8.45m was being spent on homelessness each year. In defence of the then-mayor Boris Johnson, the number of homeless people in the capital was under half of today's figure, which stands at 8,855.
Then again, from 2013/14 to 2015/16 the annual reported numbers of rough sleepers in London increased by just under 25% while Mayor Johnson's budget did not rise in tandem with this figure. Johnson had pledged to end rough sleeping in London by the 2012 Games.
The current mayor blames a lack of genuinely affordable housing for Londoners, welfare reform, cuts to health and social services, and the government's failure to tackle the root causes of homelessness, for the rise in rough sleepers over the last few years. He hopes the latest budget will help, although isn't making claims as bold as his predecessor's.
Where's the money coming from?
The mayor's office tells Londonist that £11.9m comes from the Greater London Authority budget (no cuts have been made elsewhere, apparently) and the remaining £7.3m is from the government, namely through funding bids and negotiation with central government. Khan is keen to point out that no extra budgeting has come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government — which he'd hoped would be the case.
What will the money be spent on?
Among other things, the £19.2m will be spent on:
- Improved shelter provision for rough sleepers during the coldest months of the year, including extended opening hours for the network of shelters run by the GLA, boroughs and other partners.
- Increased funding for Routes Home programme
- More support for the Rapid Response Team
- £300,000 to the Equipping Shelters Project, delivered by the charity Housing Justice
- Two new London shelters
The number of people sleeping rough on our streets is a national disgrace... This funding will [help] people who are already sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness, and ensure they are given the best possible chance of pursuing a life off the streets. But we can’t do it alone – the government must urgently address the root causes of rough sleeping, and reverse their policies which are forcing people onto the streets in the first place.