Blakeway pledges to keep rough sleeper target
The deputy mayor for housing in London has pledged to keep the No second night out target after the end of this year.
Rick Blakeway also told Inside Housing he is looking at a shake-up of the London Delivery board, which he said he would definitely keep post-2012.
The delivery board and NSNO were set up to achieve London mayor Boris Johnson’s promise to end rough sleeping in the capital by the end of this year. The No second night out initiative aims to stop any new rough sleeper spending a second night on the streets.
Mr Blakeway was not clear on whether NSNO would continue in its present format. He said: ‘We will continue to do projects like No second night out and potentially some new ones as well’. He pointed out the NSNO scheme, which is still a pilot, has funding until the end of this comprehensive spending review. He added: ‘No one should spend a second night out on the street – there’s no intention to change that [target].’
Homelessness organisations have recently called for a shake-up of the board, which is made up of 23 organisations and chaired by Mr Blakeway. ‘We will continue to have a board and I will continue to chair that,’ he said. ‘We are absolutely looking at the board and its membership and its role and its purpose.’
Mr Blakeway added that he would not give more details on the future of NSNO and the board before options are discussed at a meeting of the London Delivery Board on 21 November.
Although the mayor’s target of ending rough sleeping will not be reached, NSNO and the board are widely deemed to have been a success. Government-endorsed rough sleeping figures from homelessness charity Broadway show 70 per cent of the 5,678 new rough sleepers to London streets in 2011/12 did not spend a second night there. This compared to 62 per cent in 2010/11. The Broadway figures also showed rough sleeping in the capital had shot up by 43 per cent last year compared to 2010/11.
NSNO was launched on 1 April 2011. In the first year 2,699 new rough sleepers were brought to the NSNO assessment hub and the scheme helped 1,405 people find accommodation. A second ‘hub’ was opened in Hammersmith in June to add to the one in Islington.
The government rolled out the scheme nationally last year and put £20 million into a homelessness transition fund to run until March 2014 that would help tackle rough sleeping in England.
Darren Johnson, London Assembly member and housing spokesperson for the Green Party, said: ‘There is no doubt that the mayor, local councils and charities have been successful in helping people off the streets.
‘But the mayor has neglected the reason why more and more people are ending up there. His new delivery board needs to have a new focus on prevention, and he needs to start calling for more security for private tenants, the reversal of housing benefit cuts and a step change in funding for social housing.’