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Shapps maintains commitment to No Second Night Out

Homeless Link

3 min read Partner content

In a civilised country, nobody should be living on the street, a leading Conservative politician has said.

Housing minister Grant Shapps was speaking at a Homeless Link roundtable event at Conservative conference, to debate the No Second Night Out project and the aim of ending rough sleeping by 2012.

No Second Night Out aims to prevent someone new to rough sleeping from spiralling downwards into a long-term life on the streets where they are very vulnerable to crime, drugs and alcohol, and at high risk of serious illness, and potential early death.

The project is currently being piloted in London.

Jenny Edwards, chief executive of Homeless Link, demonstrated what the pilot project has already been able to achieve.

"It shows you can stop the return of people to the streets, if you catch them early. Only 11 per cent of those people that go to the No Second Night Out hub are seen rough sleeping again," she said.

Shapps reaffirmed the government's commitment to the project: "I firmly believe that No Second Night Out should be possible to achieve," he said.

However, Shapps said he could not ignore the economic context within which he was trying to achieve this ambition.

"If I could swap my 18 months as housing minister for any other time in history, I would. Because since the Second World War I don't think there has been a time where budgets have been so tight," he said.

A key theme of the roundtable discussion was the need for a joined-up approach when delivering services at a local level.

Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud, pushed on this issue, to stop people "falling between the gaps".

Oliver Hilberry, a representative of the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) Coalition, a coalition of four charities focusing on multiple needs and exclusion, made the point that the services for homeless people, particularly those with multiple needs, are out there, but what fails is coordination in terms of treatment.

Demonstrating the success of pilot projects, Hilberry said:

"For a small amount of money spent on co-ordination, we can start to make some very significant differences."

Mike Jones, leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, spoke of the current opportunity to create more localised services, targeted at the individual.

"The LGA has been arguing very forcefully for community budgets," he said.

In contrast to the one-size-fits-all approach favoured by Whitehall, Jones argued that community budgets allow "flexibility", and would enable councils to support local projects that do not currently fit government funding streams and thus find it difficult to gain funding.

The pledges around No Second Night Out were the result of the first report of a cross-ministerial working group on homelessness.

Throughout the roundtable, Shapps made it clear that he does not see the report as something that is going to "sit on the shelf and collect dust".

Shapps maintained his commitment to ensure the pledges in the report are met.

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