According to Derby City Council’s official Rough Sleeper Count – there were 6 people sleeping on the streets at the end of November 2020 – down from 14 a year earlier.
If this is accurate then you would expect that reducing it to zero would be fairly straightforward?
Is Rough Sleeping really the issue in Derby?
Since April 2020 the Government funded the “Everyone In” scheme to ensure that all Rough Sleepers were given some form of temporary accommodation so that no one had to sleep on the streets during the Lockdown.
From April-November 2020, 167 people were engaged through this scheme in Derby – this includes people who were at risk of being homeless i.e not sleeping rough. During that same period, the Council declared to the Government that it had moved 217 people into “settled accommodation” ( formal tenancy of at least 6 months).
On top of this, the Council has published that, at 30 November 2020, there were 85 people in temporary accommodation.
Note: Homeless includes:
-staying with friends or family
-staying in a hostel, night shelter or B&B
-squatting (because you have no legal right to stay)
-at risk of violence or abuse in your home
-living in poor conditions that affect your health
-living apart from your family because you don’t have a place to live together
Whilst the published statistics are far from clear, or consistent, it is evident there is a high volume of people who are being successfully supported in Derby through the Council’s Homelessness Team ( 1760 people in 2019)
Perhaps, to confuse matters further, the Council also states that as of 27 November 2020, 17 people slept on the streets for the first time since April 2020, and that 27 people had spent at least one night on the street in November.
In the August – November 2020 period, the Council separately states that 56 rough sleepers were accommodated.
Despite the Government trying to outlaw evictions from April 2020 until November there were 692 people, in that period, who applied to the Council as they were threatened with homelessness ( from family/friends as well as rented properties). A further 450 were already homeless ( not necessarily rough sleeping) and needed support from the Council to avoid rough sleeping.
Whilst there are people transiently spending time on the streets, the count of 6 at 30 November 2020 is more likely to be representative of those people who are entrenched rough sleepers ( i.e. those who have spent a long time on the streets and don’t engage with the Council)
In 2018/19 Derby City Council received a £365k grant from Central Govt for its Homelessness work, this increased to £746k in 2020/21, and will further increase to £986k in 2021/22. Additionally the Council will receive nearly £1.8m from the Government to build additional accommodation to ensure that people don’t return to the streets.
The Council has strict statutory duties to prevent / relieve homelessness; these were increased since the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. The evidence suggests that the Council has implemented good measures and continues to find solutions for individual’s housing problems. The revenue funding is in place, and the capital grants should secure more Council run accommodation.
If anyone is threatened with homelessness and engages with the Council as soon as possible ( up to 56 days prior to eviction), then a solution will be found to avoid rough sleeping. If someone finds themselves on the streets, and are prepared to work with the Council then they can get back into some form of accommodation.
Call Housing Options on 01332 888777 (choose option 4 for homeless or 5 for threatened with homeless)
Homelessness will not disappear as the many and varied personal circumstances will always conspire to create this situation.
The real issues now, which are almost endemic, relate to people on low incomes/benefits, mental health conditions, or where Covid has created overnight levels of uncertainty beyond an individual’s control. Resolution of this is far more complex and widespread.
Derby has always benefitted from many organisations and individuals throughout the City who have provided food, either on the streets, through food banks, food stores etc, These will continue as voluntary goodwill is a priceless contribution to our society.
This service is not simply about “hand outs” – it is also there to provide pathways for people to engage with other organisations and get support and advice.
To avoid the longer term damaging effects of poverty, and the slide into homelessness, these Council co-ordinated initatives, need to be able to continue to develop and grow, and become embedded, with a more prominent profile, so people get the right targetted support, as early as possible.
Anyone who is need of help can call 01332 640000