MHPF welcomes the publication of the Communities and Local Government [CLG] Select Committee report on homelessness, which concludes that a demonstrable increase in homelessness, driven by the cost and availability of housing, has pushed the problem to such a level that a renewed Government-wide strategy is needed.
The report explains that a shortage of social housing means many people rely on the private rented sector to avoid or escape homelessness, but often the financial barriers or instability of tenancies are too great. It urges the Government to work with local authorities to deliver homes for affordable rent and says local housing benefit levels should be reviewed to more closely reflect market rents.
The prevalence of mental health issues among homeless people, in particular rough sleepers, is highlighted, with Ministers urged to produce a detailed action plan to address their needs. The report adds that the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Heath should review funding of mental health services for homeless people to maximise effectiveness.
Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive of MHPF, said:
“Given the prevalence of mental ill health among people among homeless people, it is vital that vulnerable people are provided with effective support to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping. Our work on mental health and housing as the lead partner of the National Forum on Mental Health and Housing brings together stakeholders across the statutory and voluntary sector and from key Government departments to explore and address the challenges in relation to housing and mental health. We hope our continuing work in this area can lead to innovative and coordinated approaches to address the needs of the homeless with mental health needs.”
The Committee has made a number of recommendations including calling on the Government to produce a detailed action plan on how it intends to address the mental health needs of homeless people. MHPF welcomes the Report’s recognition of the need for mental health services to maintain the flexibility needed to deliver effective treatment, and is particularly pleased to see mental health as a priority for the Cross-Departmental Ministerial Working Group.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said:
“No one should be homeless in Britain today, but the reality is that more and more people find themselves on the streets, in night shelters or going from sofa to sofa to keep a roof over their heads… The scale of homelessness is now such that a renewed Government strategy is a must. It needs to not only help those who are homeless but also prevent those vulnerable families and individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless from joining them. All Departments will need to subscribe to this common approach and contribute to ending homelessness.”
MHPF will continue to support the work of the Committee and highlights the invaluable role of the voluntary sector in implementing recommendations through the design and delivery of vital services both nationally and locally. We look forward to a response from the Government later this year.