Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Glen Bramley
Published 10 March 2021
This paper provides a comparative analysis of homelessness policy goals, expenditure and outcomes across Great Britain in the post-2015 period, setting these developments in their longer-term perspective. In England, a relatively positive legacy on homelessness bequeathed by interventionist Labour administrations was undermined by social security cuts and a hand-off ‘Localism’ policy on the part of post-2010 Coalition and Conservative Governments. Overall spending on homelessness services fell, even though the numbers affected climbed sharply, and local authorities were forced to channel more of their dwindling resources towards supporting temporary accommodation costs as placements spiralled upwards. Wales has taken a more progressive recent policy approach, protecting the main source of revenue funding for single homelessness services, and strengthening its homelessness legislation. The key tenets of this Welsh legislation were then adopted in England via the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. Meantime Scotland has long forged its own path on homelessness policy, most notably by radically extending entitlements for single homeless people. A key message of the paper is that homelessness is fundamentally driven by poverty across Great Britain, but also that targeted homelessness and rough sleeping policies can have dramatic positive effects, even in a challenging structural context.