No second night out homeless link conference

Transcript of the speech as delivered. No Second Night Out - that’s some ambition. But if Boris promises it can be done in London why shouldn…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

Transcript of the speech as delivered.

No Second Night Out - that’s some ambition.

But if Boris promises it can be done in London why shouldn’t we achieve it across the country.

London has the biggest numbers of rough sleepers.

So if he can make no second night out apply there then surely we can make it apply everywhere.

When I say “we” I really mean you.

You are the ones who will do the hard work.

People who have chosen to care about people who don’t have a home.

Homeless Link brings together people who care and whatever you call it - the voluntary sector, the first sector or the charity sector - I think you are an important expression of the Big Society.

You don’t walk by on the other side of the street.

Instead you devote your lives to helping people off the streets.

You have a track record to be proud of but you also know there is more to do.

The only problem was that we didn’t really know what the scale of the problem really was.

The Rough Sleeping Count was more of a Rough Sleeping Rough Guess.

That’s why I was prepared to take the bad publicity for rising numbers of rough sleepers by fixing the false stats - the new numbers merely reflected a reality.

Now the Rough Sleeping Count really does count.

We have a better idea of the scale of the problem.

And because we know that every individual we count is homeless for different reasons we set up the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness.

For the first time Ministers get round the table and work out how to deal with homelessness.

Whether its substance abuse, mental illness, or leaving prison (or a chaotic mix) that puts people on the street I can talk to colleagues from across government to help.

The Ministerial Working Group has heard from a range of experts, including Jenny, and we listened carefully.

The No Second Night Out pledge came out of our discussions.

That was the first commitment made in the plan published by the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness.

Of course many cities already have excellent homelessness services in place, and have been highly successful at reducing levels of rough sleeping.

Local authorities will need to build on these to adopt a gold standard approach to rough sleeping services that meet the No Second Night Out principles.

We all know there is more to do.

Anyone can make a pledge but we now need to work together to achieve it.

That’s why we have maintained Homelessness Grant at this year’s level, investing £400 million over the next four years.

In addition we are providing £20 million administered by Homeless Link to the voluntary sector. This new funding will be available to help deliver NSNO.

I’m also able to announce today that I have secured an additional £5 million for the Homelessness Change Programme resulting in total funding of £42.5 million.

Under the Homelessness Change Programme the HCA has agreed 37 projects across the country that will get funding to help improve hostels for rough sleepers.

There are a variety of projects and providers and I am confident that the new programme is going to make a difference to those who have been homeless with nearly 1,200 bedspaces resulting from the investment we’re announcing today.

Just to give you a few examples:

  • St Mungo’s are providing move-on accommodation for long term rough sleepers currently in the City of London
  • Cheltenham YMCA have an impressive scheme to help young homeless people with a new 73 bed facility spread across several properties across their Vittoria Road site
  • In North Lincolnshire, Framework will develop a 20 bed facility with onsite training in an area of unmet need.

You may know I am not a big fan of targets.

I have said again and again that the house building targets of the previous government meant that houses didn’t get built.

But I don’t see No Second Night Out as a target.

I see it as an obligation.

It is obscene that a society as advanced as ours cannot stop people sleeping on our streets for two nights in a row.

Over the years I have visited many hostels, and shelters - I expect some of my hosts are in the audience.

What I remember is the ex homeless people I met.

People like Michael Dolan (No Second Night Out London service user speaking at conference) who wanted to tell me their story.

How they had ended up on the street but also how they had now turned their life around.

The thing I remember most is the pride they took in having done it themselves.

Yes they needed your help but in the end they are the ones who helped themselves.

They decided they had had enough of their chaotic lives and wanted to change them for the better.

And more impressively many now wanted to help others turn their lives around.

To help them take their first step off the streets.

They know how dangerous and damaging life on the street is.

I listened to them and worked hard to make sure that the government is committed to No Second Night Out.

I look forward to working with you to achieving that.

No Second Night Out for anyone. It can be done.

And remember No Second Night Out was only one of six commitments made in the first Ministerial Working Group report.

We’ll push through all the elements of the ‘No Second Night Out’ report.

A lot of people and organisations write reports about homelessness, complete with recommendations, but the difference is that this government will provide the leadership to deliver the recommendations in our report.

The next Ministerial Working Group report on Homelessness will focus what leads to homelessness.

So now I look forward to our discussion about what more the government can do to help homeless people out of shop doorways, off park benches, from out of the shadows and into permanent homes.

Thank you.

Published 12 October 2011