Sajid Javid to visit Finland to look at radical scheme to end homelessness

Posted On: 
12th March 2017

The Communities Secretary has said he will visit Finland to look at a groundbreaking scheme to end homelessness.

A homeless person beds down in central London

Sajid Javid said he was "particularly interested" in the Housing First programme, which offers rough sleepers a permanent home before giving them access to drug, alcohol and mental health services.

If implemented it would mark a transformation from the current "treatment first" approach, which often sees people housed in shelters or temporary accommodation. 

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The Centre for Social Justice, a thinktank founded by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, is calling on ministers to invest £110m to bring in the scheme for recurrent rough sleepers.

The CSJ argues that the scheme would pay for itself after three years by cutting the cost of treatment. 

A pilot in Manchester has already proven successful, with the council saving £2.51 for every £1 invested in the scheme.

Mr Javid welcomed the CSJ report, saying: "My department will be studying the recommendations closely, as this is a cause close to my heart.

"I’m particularly interested in Housing First as a means to ending chronic homelessness. I intend to travel to Finland to learn more about the approach."

The number of rough sleepers in the UK has more than doubled since 2010, with the most recent statistics putting the figure at over 4,000 for 2016.

Shadow housing spokesman John Healey blamed a combination of benefit cuts, underfunded homelessness services and underinvestment in affordable homes for the steep rise.


Responding to the Communities Secretary's interest in the programme, CEO of Veterans Aid Dr. Hugh Milroy has cautioned the Government, saying: "‘Housing First’ is a seductive and appealing concept for politicians and policy makers but a quick ‘Google' search shows that it is not regarded as being universally successful.  It certainly doesn’t tackle key underlying issues such as poverty and won’t be able to overcome  poor NHS mental health provision or exclusion due to poor education. " Read the full response here.