St Mungo calls for hostel action

Jake Cudsi, November 18th 2017

The charity St Mungo’s has called on the government to sustain funding for hostels across the UK. The request arrived on World Homeless Day (10 October), with a government announcement on supported housing due imminently.

Government strategy to tackle the homelessness rise has been in the spotlight recently, following the National Audit Office’s report into the current approach. The report found that funding for housing related support fell by 45 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15.

Unsurprisingly the number of homeless accommodation beds fell by 18 per cent in England over the last seven years, whilst there has been a 134 per cent increase in the number of homeless people in the country over that same time-frame.

Research by the Save Hostels Rebuild Lives and the National Housing Federation estimated there was a shortfall of 16,692 places in supported housing for working-age people in 2015/16, costing taxpayers roughly £361 million.

Homeless Link found that offering people at risk of homelessness a safe and supported place to stay saves £6,703 per person per year by reducing costs to health, social care and criminal justice services.

Hostels today operate on a shoestring budget, post 2010 the vast majority of councils slashed their Supporting People budgets as austerity bit. The legacy of these cuts is a dearth of hostels and beds to support the increasing number of homeless people.

St Mungo’s supports 2700 people in or at risk of homelessness every night, providing counsel and a bed.

Chief executive Howard Sinclair has outlined the value of hostels: “Hostels are the primary route out of rough sleeping in this country.”

Official figures taken from autumn 2016 found 4134 people were sleeping rough on a singe night in England.

Evidently a rethink on the current apathy gripping government approach to the dilemma concerning hostels is necessary.

Mooted proposals over hostel funding include capping the housing benefit entitlement of supported housing residents and increasing the reliance on relatively insecure local discretionary funding, St Mungo’s are adamant this will only serve to aggravate the current situation

Sinclair added: "The government must first secure these vital services that provide a place of safety and hope for thousands of people.”

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