Letter condemns ‘unacceptable’ record on rough sleeping

The Mayor of London, council leaders and homeless charities have criticised the government’s ‘completely unacceptable’ record on rough sleeping in a joint letter to Theresa May.

The joint letter outlines how current government policies are fuelling the rough sleeping crisis and urged the outgoing Prime Minister to ‘do the right thing and make the changes we need’ to help those living on the streets.

The letter makes three specific asks to help the huge numbers non-UK nationals off the streets: reversing changes made in 2014 that restricted benefit entitlements for EEA nationals; prioritising the resolution of complex immigration cases, alongside fully funding adequate legal advice and support; and increasing funding for specialist employment services to enable non-UK nationals who can work to find secure paid employment.

The letter says: “We regret that the government’s help for non-UK nationals has so far been inadequate, and that the support which is available has been far too slow in coming forward. The steps above would begin to offer help to the large numbers of non-UK nationals on the streets of London, who currently have no option but to live on our streets, by enabling many of them to access accommodation and to resolve longstanding immigration issues.

“The government’s current position effectively forces many support services in London to look the other way and simply walk by when they see rough sleepers who are non-UK nationals. This is completely unacceptable; it does not reflect the compassionate city we live in. Before you leave office, we urge you to do the right thing and make the changes we need.”