PM visits Peckham to highlight homelessness services

21 December 2016

Prime Minister Theresa May visited charity Thames Reach, in Southwark, this morning in order to highlight how homelessness is tackled across London.

The government confirmed to Southwark Council late last night that it has been successful in its second significant bid this year for funding to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness. Southwark Council has gained £393,000 in rough sleeping grant funding, which will be used to further increase the borough’s already exemplary services in tackling rough sleeping and preventing homelessness. An element of the funding will be used at the Thames Reach employment academy in Peckham, and St. Mungo’s, as noted in the bid.

As part of its drive towards excellence in homelessness prevention, Southwark Council successfully bid for a £1m share of £20m the government has pledged for its Trailblazer project earlier this year. The money will be used for the most important part of tackling homelessness:  preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place. The council already has an excellent record in reducing the number of young people particularly that lose their homes after family breakdown.

Already known for its innovation in using grant funding, Southwark Council has previously used the migrant impact fund to pay for specialist multi-lingual officers who are able to assist rough sleepers who do not speak English, for example.

At a recent count, Southwark’s outreach officers found 32 street homeless people, over three times as many as the figure of ten in 2011. Like the rest of London, the borough has seen a steady increase in rough sleepers, particularly those who are destitute migrants, over the past few years. However, this quarter, the greatest increase is with UK nationals, particularly those with drug or alcohol issues.

As well as those who are street homeless, many people who currently have a roof over their head can quickly become in danger of losing it through financial problems, drug or alcohol misuse, family breakdown or overcrowding. Many families are really feeling the pinch of the cost of living in London, and genuinely affordable housing is a dwindling resource.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing, said, “It is shocking to see that homelessness is increasing. While the Trailblazer and rough sleeping grant funding help to deal with the solution, the bigger picture is that more people are under threat of losing their homes and becoming homeless in many different ways. The impact of welfare reform, benefit caps and elements of the Housing and Planning Act is that more people, those not yet visible on the street, are in serious danger of losing their homes.

“I am pleased to see that the Pay to Stay element of the Housing and Planning Act has been stalled, as we see the real picture of how any effective increase in the cost of renting can affect families and leave them vulnerable to homelessness, particularly when there simply isn’t the supply of affordable housing in the private sector.”

Last updated: 29 December 2016