The Everyone In scheme has exposed the true scale of England’s rough sleeping problem, which is much greater than the Government previously acknowledged, Catholic Labour MP Meg Hillier has said.
Her comments came as a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) found that the number of people helped under the Everyone In scheme is nearly nine times the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)’s last official estimate of people sleeping rough.
The Everyone In scheme saw over 37,000 people experiencing homelessness given emergency accommodation to keep them safe during the pandemic, which dwarves the MHCLG’s last official estimate of people sleeping rough on England’s streets, made before the start of the pandemic, of 4,266.
The PAC also pointed out that the MHCLG still does not have a plan for achieving or maintaining the government’s 2019 election commitment to end rough sleeping by May 2024.
Ms Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Everyone In was a success with local authorities and voluntary organisations working to help people living on the street into hostels and hotel rooms in a matter of days.
“But the Everyone In initiative has exposed the scale of the task the Ministry of Housing faces to meet the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping in three years.
“Rough sleeping was a massive public health issue long before the pandemic, and much larger than Government has previously publicly acknowledged.
“MHCLG now has a huge opportunity to capitalise on this success in the pandemic response and begin to reverse its long record of failed and abandoned housing targets and policies.
“People without recourse to public funds are still left exposed and risk losing support. Support for these people is urgent.”