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‘Ending Rough Sleeping for Good’ progress assessment: a transparent and joined-up system

In summer 2023, the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel set up three sub-groups to focus on prevention, led by the Local Government Association and St Basils; recovery and intervention, led by Housing Justice and Thames Reach; and transparent and joined-up systems, led by the Centre for Homelessness Impact and London Councils.

Author information

Date: September 2023

Status: draft for discussion 

Authors: Centre for Homelessness Impact and London Councils

In summer 2023, the Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel, which brings together leading experts from local government and homelessness charities to scrutinise, support and challenge progress on the Government’s Ending Rough Sleeping for Good Strategy, set up three sub-groups to focus on specific themes. 

The themes were prevention, led by the Local Government Association and St Basils; recovery and intervention, led by Housing Justice and Thames Reach; and transparent and joined-up systems, led by the Centre for Homelessness Impact and London Councils. The leaders produced reports based on the conversations and input in each sub-group, which are published below. The reports, therefore, may not always reflect LGA policy.


The goal of this paper is to assess the progress made in the area of transparency and joined-up government – the fourth pillar of the government’s rough sleeping strategy – focusing on the insights gathered from the Advisory Panel convened by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Members were asked to reflect on overall progress, as well as identify gaps and future challenges, and any opportunities for improvements.


Based on the deliberations and insights gained from the Advisory Panel meeting aimed at reviewing the government's progress against the fourth pillar of the rough sleeping strategy, the following recommendations emerge: 

  • Comprehensive Data Collection and Monitoring (commitments 1 and 2): Embed the Ending Rough Sleeping framework by making the data easily accessible to local areas and their communities as well as further develop the initial set of indicators. For example, by creating a data platform or portal which includes not only housing data, but data on health and mental health, access to benefits, and interactions with law enforcement. 
  • Public Awareness and Education (commitments 1 and 2): Education initiatives can promote empathy, dispel misconceptions, and encourage citizen involvement in supporting local efforts to address rough sleeping. The government should explore the possibility of launching public awareness campaigns using available data to reduce stigma associated with homelessness and foster community understanding. It is important in this space to ensure that the public and other stakeholders fully understand the data that is being collected and what it means. 
  • Flexible Funding Mechanisms (commitments 2 and 5): Consider conducting a formal review of existing mechanisms and explore innovative funding structures that allow for financial information to be tracked, while enabling responsiveness to changing circumstances.
  • Systems Approach (commitments 2, 3 and 5): Build on work to date to develop a whole government approach to tackling rough sleeping, focusing on building resilient communities and integrating evidence of what works into policy formulation across all relevant government 1 departments. Introduce a small set of key measures to track progress, including on data sharing.
  • Holistic Support Services (commitment 5): Further improve collaboration with health, social care, and criminal justice providers to offer tailored assistance that is trauma informed and promotes stability and well-being. This will inevitably require some joining up of data, intelligence and priorities across those sectors and removing funding silos.
  • Engagement of Lived Experience (commitment 4 and 5): Further establish mechanisms for their meaningful participation in policy discussions and programme design to ensure that strategies resonate with the needs of those directly affected. 
  • Performance Evaluation and Feedback Loop (commitments 1, 2, and 3): Establish regular feedback loops between the Advisory Panel, government departments, and service providers to assess progress, and track implementation of the strategy at regular intervals. Review and update the commitments under this pillar of the strategy based on new data, changing circumstances, and lessons learned. 


Nearly a year on since the release of Ending Rough Sleeping for Good, DLUHC invited Advisory Panel members to evaluate the government’s progress towards the ultimate goal of ending rough sleeping in England. This because DLUHC acknowledges that efforts to prevent and combat rough sleeping necessitate ongoing scrutiny and adjustment to ensure meaningful impact. The Advisory Panel serves as an important platform for experts, stakeholders, and officials to collectively assess the efficacy of the implemented strategy. 

The meeting to discuss the fourth pillar of the strategy convened on the 11th of July 2023 to critically analyse the government's progress against the five commitments under ‘a transparent and joined-up system’. Evidence suggests that greater transparency in efforts at national and local levels will foster accountability and collaboration, ultimately leading to more effective and compassionate solutions for those affected by rough sleeping. 

What progress has been made overall?

When asked to assess the government's overall progress in this particular aspect of the strategy, most members reported that they found it to be ‘very good’ or 'excellent.' These efforts have seemingly prevented a surge in homelessness during a challenging period, especially as the cost of living crisis continues to bite. There is, however, a concern that sustained success may require renewed efforts in the upcoming months, particularly when the figures are now moving in an unfavourable direction despite these positive endeavours. 

Furthermore, it's important to distinguish between DLUHC’s performance, which members described as very good, and that of other government departments, which was perceived to be 2 less favourable. Data emerged as a significant concern, with only the information available within the housing system currently being utilised – a notable limitation. The consensus was that other departments have much work to do, not only in terms of ending rough sleeping but also ensuring that their policies do not inadvertently exacerbate the problem. For instance, the ongoing freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates makes it exceedingly challenging for local authorities to transition individuals and families into more stable housing situations, contributing to higher poverty and inequality, well-known structural drivers of homelessness. The national asylum policy is also leading to an increase in 'rest of the world' rough sleeping. 

Some members noted that interdepartmental efforts appeared to function more effectively at the local level, with noticeable regional differences. But initiatives such as the Housing First pilots, CAS3 implementation, the introduction of strategic housing advisors and prison resettlement panels, as well as DWP and JobCentre Plus' recent efforts to enhance outcomes for rough sleepers, were highlighted as examples, despite the national challenges. 

What progress has been made against the KPIs listed?

Next Advisory Panel members were invited to reflect on progress against the five commitments listed under the fourth pillar of the rough sleeping strategy.

Commitment 1: We will put in place a national data-led framework that supports effective joint working and improved accountability locally (green)

The government has made significant strides in establishing the Ending Rough Sleeping Framework, a national data-driven initiative that will enhance accountability at national and local levels. While progress has been impressive, it's only the beginning. More work is needed to fully integrate it into local and central policy development, potentially expanding data indicators and utilising data linkage. Additionally, there's a vital task of effectively communicating progress to the public using this new data. The new national Data Advisory Panel is a welcome development as is the data dashboard made available to local authorities to consider Delta data alongside other comparator areas. 

Commitment 2: We will ensure robust but flexible accountability structures are in place (orange)

The government’s pledge to create robust yet adaptable accountability structures is certainly commendable. Nevertheless, there appears to be ambiguity surrounding the actual progress made in this regard. The absence of a unified accountability framework and its connection with recent initiatives like the Ending Rough Sleeping Framework remains unclear. Given the imperative of whole government strategies in combating homelessness, it also seems prudent to consider incorporating a central government dimension within the framework. 

As we move ahead, it becomes imperative to prioritise a comprehensive review of existing accountability mechanisms at both local and national levels. Simultaneously, it would be beneficial to introduce a concise set of success metrics to effectively monitor progress in fulfilling this commitment (the strategy doesn’t include any). 

Commitment 3: We will improve our evidence-base and understanding of what works (orange)

The government's efforts to bolster its understanding of effective strategies for combating rough sleeping have been remarkable. Notably, the substantial investments in the £12 million 'Test and Learn' Programme and the £2 million System Evaluation represent ground-breaking initiatives both within the UK and on the international stage. These initiatives are poised to pinpoint essential interventions and best practices, enabling a more precise and impactful response to the issue of rough sleeping. 

We assess the progress in this area as 'orange' due to the fact that the initiative has not launched yet, which means it will take some time before results become available. Additionally, it's essential to acknowledge the substantial knowledge gaps that still exist. While this initial programme is a significant step forward, there's a vast terrain of research and action beyond the scope of this initiative. Expanding this work in the future will be crucial. 

Nonetheless, it's noteworthy that the government's proactive approach to evidence-building is a promising sign of its commitment to addressing rough sleeping with well-informed and effective policies. Another significant advancement has been the elevation of experts with lived experience to the forefront of policy development. A diverse forum has been established, laying a solid foundation upon which to further build and expand these endeavours in the future. 

Commitment 4: We will support the voluntary, community and faith sector workforce to play their part alongside other delivery partners (green)

Efforts in this area have been directed towards a substantial £7.3 million investment, intended to enhance the capacity and capabilities of the voluntary, community, and faith sectors. The approach not only seeks to promote greater collaboration but also acknowledges the distinct strengths and contributions of each sector. 

While there remains room for improvement, particularly in shifting the focus from crisis intervention to preventative measures, the government's persistent dedication to nurturing a unified workforce underscores its recognition of the invaluable role that voluntary, community, and faith organisations play in achieving the common objective of eradicating rough sleeping. Notable instances of success include the bolstered Night Shelter network and the achievements of Housing Justice's volunteering projects. Looking ahead, there is scope for further efforts to comprehensively capture, assess, and disseminate the impacts of these investments in line with this commitment. 

Commitment 5: We will improve how different services work together for people sleeping rough (orange)

The government's efforts to advance Commitment 5, which focuses on improving collaboration and coordination among services for individuals experiencing rough sleeping, are commendable, albeit noticeably weaker compared to other areas. While there are pockets of effective practices, progress has been sluggish, and persistent barriers continue to impede success. There is an urgent need for enhancements in information sharing and more effective joint planning across various systems. Moreover, it's worth noting that DLUHC displays a stronger commitment to this agenda relative to other government departments. To eliminate silos and promote a more unified 'whole government' approach, greater cohesion is imperative. 

Numerous opportunities for improvement are readily identifiable and well-documented, ranging from enhancing data collection and sharing to amplifying the role of primary care in preventing rough sleeping (for example, by making it a duty for GPs to refer individuals). The current ministerial focus on hospital capacity and the sustainability of discharge procedures could also provide the much-needed momentum for this area to catch up and see substantial progress. 

What gaps exist that will need addressing to achieve the end goal?

In the pursuit of the goal to establish a transparent and unified system to eradicate rough sleeping in England, certain shortcomings within the current strategy must be addressed: 

  • The need to enhance and broaden communication regarding efforts to combat rough sleeping, both at local and national levels (and this will require investment). 
  • The imperative for comprehensive data sharing and integration among diverse agencies, so we move away from fragmented responses. Ensuring data accuracy, security, and privacy while simultaneously promoting transparency necessitates meticulous planning. 
  • The necessity for a comprehensive visual representation of the problem and ongoing efforts, potentially in the form of a flowchart. Such a tool could systematically identify issues, corresponding interventions, and their associated costs (enhancing transparency and guiding resource allocation). 
  • The need to foster collaboration among government departments cannot be overstated. In particular, the current lack of effective synergy between healthcare and social services in addressing rough sleeping presents a substantial challenge that must be met head-on to deliver comprehensive and integrated support to individuals experiencing homelessness. 

The proactive resolution of these issues stands as a cornerstone in achieving a transparent and cohesive approach towards ending rough sleeping in England. 

What external future challenges risk threatening progress?

In our journey to establish a transparent and unified system to eradicate rough sleeping in England, several potential future challenges loom on the horizon that could impede progress: 

  • Firstly, fluctuating political landscapes create uncertainty. Greater consistency would provide a more constructive environment for ending rough sleeping.
  • Secondly, the intricate nature of homelessness, with its deeply ingrained systemic and individual root causes, poses a formidable challenge in maintaining a cohesive and transparent system over time. Consider, for instance, how the current Local Housing Allowance rates compound the difficulties faced by individuals striving for more stable housing situations. Moreover, the national asylum policy's impact on the surge in rough sleeping among individuals from other parts of the world, particularly in London, underscores the complexity of the issue. 
  • Thirdly, the dynamic evolution of technology and data privacy regulations continues to present hurdles in establishing an efficient and transparent information-sharing system. 

By proactively anticipating and addressing these challenges, we can collectively work towards crafting a more resilient and sustainable approach to ending rough sleeping. 

Concluding thoughts

The review carried out by the Advisory Panel, assessing the government's progress in the fourth pillar of the rough sleeping strategy, has yielded valuable insights that hold significant implications for its ongoing implementation. It has shed light on both successful milestones and the challenges and gaps in executing the strategy. 

By embracing the recommendations and constructive critiques outlined in this paper, the government has the opportunity to fine-tune its strategy, enhance the effectiveness of its programmes in different parts of the country, and, most importantly, provide more comprehensive support to the vulnerable populations affected by rough sleeping. This proactive approach ensures that our efforts remain responsive to the evolving needs of those facing homelessness.

Annex: overview of chapter 6 commitments

Commitment RAG

We will put in place a national data-led framework that supports effective joint working and improved accountability locally. 


  • Regular data publications and improvements 
  • A phased national roll-out of a new data-led framework to measure national and local progress on ending rough sleeping

We will ensure robust but flexible accountability structures are in place.



We will improve our evidence-base and understanding of what works to end rough sleeping, therefore driving value for money and a more innovative approach. 


  • £2.2 million investment into an unprecedented systems-wide evaluation and (subject to feasibility) new data-linking
  • Piloting innovative approaches to ending rough sleeping through a £12 million Test and Learn Programme
  • Embedding the voices of people with lived experiences into our policy making

We will support the voluntary, community and faith sector workforce to play their part alongside other delivery partners.


  • £7.3 million investment into increasing the capacity and capability and partnership
  • Promoting best practice for social workers and social care staff

We will improve how different services work together for people sleeping rough.


  • Guidance to the health and care system alongside other challenges: Integrated Care Systems; Duty to Cooperate (in order to secure and advance health and welfare); Safeguarding Adult Boards
  • Embedding learning from the trailblazing £64 million Changing Futures Programme
  • Consolidating funding streams