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The Mayor Sadiq Khan today announced a further expansion of services to help rough sleepers, as new figures show more than 1,200 rough sleepers were helped into emergency

accommodation during two weeks of freezing weather in January – around 30 per cent more than during the same period last year.

Sadiq has made tackling a rough sleeping a top priority, quadrupling City Hall’s rough sleeping budget, and today announced a further expansion of support services with a new west London ‘No Second Night Out Hub’ opening at the beginning of April.  This new hub will provide additional assessment spaces and beds to help people off the streets and into longer-term accommodation. It is part of a £17m, three-year investment into the Mayor’s No Second Night Out services, which will be run by the charity St Mungo’s, helping around 2,000 people a year. More than 16,000 rough sleepers have been helped off of the streets since Sadiq was elected Mayor in 2016, with more than 75 percent staying off the streets for good.

The Mayor activates his Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) whenever temperatures fall below 0°C, ensuring additional emergency accommodation is available for people sleeping rough. During 13 days of sub-zero temperatures earlier this month, 1,282 people were helped by the GLA and London boroughs, compared with 949 during 14 days of SWEP in January 2023.

Of those helped by SWEP, 19 per cent, 242 people, reported that they were newly granted refugees who had just left Home Office provided accommodation. Government rules give newly recognised refugees just 28 days to move on from asylum support accommodation. With no time to access universal credit, find a job and receive wages or secure private rented accommodation, many are forced to sleep rough on the streets. As an example of the chaotic way this is being dealt with, in addition last week also saw the announcement that 400 asylum seekers would have to leave temporary accommodation in Walthamstow with only days’ notice.

New Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) stats published today show the number of people helped by outreach teams in London rose by eight per cent in October to December 2023, compared to the previous quarter. For many, the cost-of-living crisis, rising rents and benefit cuts have created the perfect storm forcing them onto the streets.

The Mayor has delivered record investment into rough sleeping, but, with numbers rising nationally, he continues to urge the Government to provide £20m for emergency accommodation and support this winter, alongside a pause to evictions from Home Office accommodation during severe weather forcing many people onto the streets.  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “These new figures are very worrying, and a should be a wake-up call for the Government. Despite the huge amount of work being done in London, we can’t do this alone and the truth is Ministers are turning a blind eye to the scale of this national crisis.

“In December I asked the Government to play its part and deliver an emergency winter package of support, including pausing Home Office evictions to help prevent those most at risk sleeping in the cold this winter – something they have failed to do. The Government’s continued hostile approach to refugees has meant that hundreds of people are becoming homeless or sleeping rough on our streets.”

“As Mayor, I’m determined to do everything I can to work with boroughs and the voluntary sector to tackle rough sleeping in the capital and I urge Government Ministers to back our efforts to end this shameful situation for good.”

Emma Haddad, CEO at St Mungo's, said: "St Mungo's No Second Night Out (NSNO) is a critical service to address homelessness and help people off the streets for good. It's quite literally a lifeline. I am so pleased that our charity will continue to use our expertise to deliver the service over the coming years, where it will no doubt be vitally needed. Our expert teams work tirelessly to ensure NSNO means a route away from the streets and onto a journey of recovery and achieving ambitions. With today's CHAIN data showing numbers of people experiencing homelessness continuing to worsen, this support is more important than ever."

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive at the Passage, said: “The Passage welcomes the announcement today by The Mayor for new and increased resources to further support people sleeping rough in the capital. London is facing a homelessness crisis, the alarming extent of which is shown in the recent CHAIN data. Homelessness is a societal issue that needs a societal solution and we saw once again during the recent SWEP provision what can be achieved when people work collaboratively.

“We must now focus on changing the view that rough sleeping is something that needs to be managed to preventing it from happening in the first place; this will need innovative and radical leadership at a national level if we are to have any hope of achieving that goal.” Photo by U.S. Embassy London, Wikimedia commons.