September 13, 2016
Homelessness is particularly prevalent in the constituency and over the years as the MP I have worked closely with the Local Authority and charities such as St Mungo’s on how to tackle the issue. Approximately 30% of the UK’s rough-sleepers reside in Westminster, largely due to the transport links into central London and people’s hopes for the economic opportunities or support that London might bring.
Boris Johnson’s ‘No Second Night Out’ policy has been highly effective in ensuring that rough-sleepers are identified and offered assistance from day one. Westminster City Council, aided by the charities mentioned above, send out teams of outreach workers every evening to speak to rough-sleepers. They can then be immediately referred to a night-shelter (a form of temporary accommodation) and during their stay are assessed for health problems but also on their abilities. This is the first step in an often lengthy process of dealing with a complex array of mental/physical health issues, very often along with addiction, and back into mainstream accommodation and hopefully work.
Of course, these journeys are not easy and people do sometimes end up back on the street only to begin the cycle again. In addition, there are many homeless people from abroad who are not eligible for recourse to public funds and so are left reliant on charitable assistance alone. If you are aware of any specific people sleeping-rough then you can notify Street Link who will endeavour to find the individual and offer assistance: http://www.streetlink.org.uk
As you can see, homelessness is an incredibly complex issue and one that both local authorities and central Government continue to work hard to solve. I attach a response from the former Minister responsible for tackling homelessness that I received earlier this year which outlines the Government’s commitment to this issue and the spending the has been allocated to it so far.