Rough sleeping has increased by 120% since 2010: An open letter to the next Government

Dear Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, Ed Davey, 

Rough sleeping has increased by 120% since 2010 and the number of people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, is at an all-time high. Funding must be extended and increased to prevent the loss of essential homelessness services. 

We, the undersigned, write to you on the advent of the 2024 General Election, urging you to act against the rising tide of homelessness should you be successful in forming a new Government.  

At this moment, there are close to 4,000 people sleeping on the streets every night, and almost 80,000 households experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. The cost-of-living crisis and a chronic lack of affordable housing are pushing more and more people to the brink. It does not have to be like this and there are political choices that could resolve it. Every day we see people who have no choice but to sleep rough, people in work who cannot afford their rent, people who are fighting to rebuild their lives. 

St Mungo’s works tirelessly to provide services that support people away from homelessness, but outreach teams are struggling to meet demand and hostels are at capacity.   

Essential funding for homelessness services must be extended and uplifted. The Rough Sleeping Initiative, dedicated to supporting people off the streets, will face a cliff-edge as funding is due to end in April 2025. Other essential funding for non-statutory local authority run homelessness services, does not currently cover skyrocketing demand and running costs.  

When pressures on budgets grow, local authorities look at cutting non-statutory services first, vital services like the ones St Mungo’s provide. Thousands of the people that St Mungo’s support rely on services funded by the Rough Sleeping Initiative. If it is not extended and uplifted, about a third of the projects that St Mungo’s deliver with local authorities may have to close.  

With the unprecedented financial pressures currently affecting local authorities, this funding must be extended and increased to prevent these services – and many others like them – from closing, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to turn.  

We ask you to ensure that people who are at risk of rough sleeping and homelessness receive the vital support they need, by covering increased costs, and by extending and uplifting funding for the Rough Sleeping Initiative for at least an additional four years.  

We believe that ending homelessness is a political choice, and the next government must commit to ending the rapid rise of rough sleeping, and supporting those who are at risk of homelessness.  

Together, we can end rough sleeping.  

Yours sincerely, 

St Mungo’s 

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