Rough Sleeping Strategy delivery assessment roundtable: recovery and intervention pillars

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: Wednesday 26 July 2023

Status: roundtable report

Authors: Housing Justice and Thames Reach

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.


We will extend investment into coordinated rough sleeping services and ensure tailored support to meet individual needs, including through the £500 million RSI 2022-5 and the £10 million Night Shelter Transformation Fund to increase provision of quality single room provision within the night shelter sector.

We will provide significant investment in drug and alcohol treatment to support people experiencing rough sleeping and improve mental health provision. 


The Night Shelter Transformation fund was welcomed. It has sustained and improved a previously under-resourced key route off the streets for many people. There is however a shortage of suitable sites, and some concern about how risk is held in night shelter partnerships. 

The Accommodation for Ex-Offenders funding has also worked well, and the provision of support has helped develop relationships with landlords. 

RSI funding has helped improve the quantity, quality and consistency of street outreach work (particularly at night).

There has been an improvement in joint working with many examples cited including work with probation, social care, mental health and between local authorities and voluntary sector partners.  In some areas this approach has been facilitated by the use of ‘navigators’ who can help build an effective service offer around an individual with complex needs.   

Manchester Street Engagement Hub was mentioned as a particular good practice example. 

Still to do

While there are many examples of good practice, implementation can still be patchy, and is generally dependent on good local authority support. 

There is inconsistency in approach. Sometimes a good multi-agency response to people sleeping rough is not sustained as people move away from the streets (mental health services were cited as an example). 

There is a shortage of accommodation – particularly long-term accommodation) for people with complex needs (including care needs). 

A combination of supply issues, LHA and the benefits cap mean that the private rented sector is increasingly unaffordable for people claiming benefits. This puts pressure on temporary accommodation because people are unable to move on. The group suggested that local rent caps or a LHA+ approach should be investigated as possible solutions. 

It can be difficult to access substance misuse services until accommodation is secured. It can also be difficult for people with limited recourse to access substance misuse treatment.  This can be a barrier to ending their rough sleeping. 

We will build on our ‘exhaust all options’ approach to work with non-UK nationals sleeping rough to make sure those who have restricted eligibility for public funds have a clear pathway off the streets. 


The replacement of the Home Office Rough Sleepers Support Service (RSSS) with the Homelessness Escalation Service (HES) was welcomed, and participants noted the prompt and solution focused approach of the HES. 

Good practice included the GLA, Homeless Migrants Advisory Panel, bringing together a range of agencies, the GLA, DLHUC and the Home Office. This provided a forum for information sharing and problem solving. The Greater Manchester Restricted Eligibility Service provided a full range of services and was seen as effective in providing alternatives to rough sleeping. Voluntary night shelters were significant in providing access to accommodation and subsequently to support for this group. 

Still to do

Lack of consistent information and availability of good quality advice and legal aid for this group was noted, as was a lack of information in appropriate languages.  It was also noted that local authority responses were not consistent, and that staff often lacked knowledge, this and a shortage of resources meant that services were variable, and sometime non-existent. This led to people spending longer on the street than as necessary. 

There is a specific current risk associated with accelerated decision making for asylum seekers (a positive decision means that people lose their accommodation in 28 days and there is little effective support to find other options). 

The group also noted that political rhetoric and media reporting around this group made the work of tackling rough sleeping more difficult.

We will provide local authorities, police and other agencies with the tools they need to work effectively together to address rough sleeping, protect the public and make communities safe for all


Good practice examples where non-residential services are bringing together enforcement and services (Housing, Health, Substance Use treatment, benefits). This gave positive alternatives to ‘moving on’ people sleeping rough and an opportunity to develop a joined-up offer for people with complex needs. 

Still to do 

Some discomfort with the language. There was a lack of clarity about the repeal of the Vagrancy Act and what comes next, particularly concern that rough sleeping is potentially being identified as anti-social behaviour in itself, and a sense that the public needed to be protected from people sleeping rough. 

We will make it easier for the public to play their part in supporting people sleeping rough


Recommissioning of Street Link. 

Good practice examples included the development of local Charters, aimed at the public and business. These provided an opportunity to communicate what was being done, to challenge unhelpful myths, and to build support for action. It was felt that local night shelters (and other volunteering options) were a good way of involving members of the public in positive solutions to rough sleeping. 

Still to do

Some concern about the replacement of Street Link and communication about this. This has since been addressed, although the group felt that there is a need for telephone as well as digital access to this, and that it was important that the new service was well promoted to the public and to the range of organisations and individuals that may use it. 

It was felt there was still some way to go on the integration of services to people who are rough sleeping. This affects health and substance misuse services, but also different agencies involved in providing accommodation and support.  This affects the ability to provide an integrated response – different organisations tend to respond to their own partial data. 

Participants weren’t aware of the rail industry best practice referred to in the strategy.


We will support both housing-led approaches and Housing First and make sure specialist homes are in place for those experiencing rough sleeping

We will address unacceptable poor quality supported housing and increase supply, including through a new £200 million Single Homeless Accommodation Programme


Successes have included combined revenue and capital funding. As well as the support to sustain a move away from the street, this has given housing providers the confidence to participate. 

Good co-production and problem-solving involving local authorities, voluntary sector, and housing/accommodation providers, leading to good quality locally developed Housing First/housing led schemes and new supported housing. Examples cited include RSAP scheme in Leicester and joint work between local authorities and the voluntary night shelter in Greenwich. 

‘Flipping’ of units into general needs stock once support is no longer required seen as very positive practice which promoted stability in recovery. 

Still to do

Rough sleeping is not seen as a development priority by many RPs and Local Authorities are not always effective in using the levers that they have to affect this. Most housing options are relatively short term. A contributing factor is the short-term nature of support funding which dis-incentivises capital development in supported housing. 

Tenants are often offered six-month AST which can create instability.

The lack of consistent tenancy support provision makes many landlords reluctant to give tenancies to a group perceived as having high support needs. 

Lack of support funding means that providers are reliant on creative use of service charge.  This is not always transparent and increases rent, making employment more difficult. It also increases void risk for providers. 

It is not always clear what role hostels are filling. If hostels are providing emergency accommodation the aim should be for less than 100 per cent occupancy to allow them to respond to need.

It is difficult to find new sites for supported housing. Much existing hostel and supported housing stock is old and worn out, but it is also heavily grant laden.  There was a question whether grant should be written down over time, allowing for services to be remodelled in response to changing needs.   

Hostels and supported housing aimed at people with a history of rough sleeping are often perceived as an alternative to health or social care provision by H&SC decision makers.  It would benefit both parties but especially tenants and residents if there was more positive and consistent engagement with housing and support.

We will improve the support available to help people with experience of rough sleeping into employment refreshing the Job Centre offer through best practice and networks of homelessness leads and setting up a covenant with employers to increase job opportunities 


Job centre support from leads can be excellent, however this is not always the case and often services use workarounds contacting members of staff who are known to be helpful. 

The covenant with businesses is yet to be launched, however there is existing work (for example, West Midland Combined Authority and Business in the Community Tool kit). 

Still to do

It’s worth noting that implementation is still in the early stages so far.

Employment and housing are interdependent. The group would like the strategy to be more ambitious on tackling the housing and employment challenges jointly. 

The benefits system should be a key facilitator to people returning to work after street homelessness but is complicated and does not always recognise the realities for people on low and variable wages. The DWP noted that the strategy is in its infancy and that a relaunch is planned in the Autumn. 

The group felt that there was the need for work to be done to simplify rents and benefits for people moving into work after homelessness. Currently the system is perceived as complicated and punitive. 

The group discussed the planned homelessness identifier, although some scepticism about how well this would work to support people perceived as having a history of homelessness.  Navigators with lived experience based in job centres was seen as an alternative more positive approach. 

There is a lack of consistent in-work support both for new employees and employers. 

Participants weren’t aware of any specific investment in employment through the RSI.

Broader themes


There were consistent themes around information, how this needs to be consistent and shared, and how it can support the understanding of the issues affecting street homelessness and how responses can be effective. The lack of shared information can also mean that people using services are repeatedly expected to tell and retell their stories.  Clearly there is a need to balance the protection of personal information and the sharing of information to enable a joined-up response, but there is a need for evidence to evaluate interventions and to understand where new initiatives are required and likely to be effective. Work in London to join up anonymised information from agencies (InForm and others), the GLA (CHAIN), and Local authorities (H-CLIC) to inform strategic decision making is a potential example of good practice in this area. 

Workforce and sustainability

The voluntary sector has a key role in helping to deliver the strategy. Concerns were expressed across the group around the sustainability of funding and how this supported the development and retention of a skilled workforce. Income had fallen behind expenditure on salaries for many organisations and there were concerns around costs associated with the training of staff. There was also a desire to see more support for organisations to enable people who had used their services to move into delivering them.