A new independent commission launches today (23 March), to examine and learn the lessons from the emergency response which supported people sleeping rough during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chaired by Lord Bob Kerslake, The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping aims to help all agencies involved in supporting those who are rough sleeping, or homeless and at risk of rough sleeping; to understand what worked during the pandemic, and what is now needed to embed the good practice developed during the past year.
There will be lessons for government at national, regional and local levels, and public health agencies, as well as the homelessness sector and providers.
Lord Kerslake, the former Head of the Civil Service and the Department for Communities and Local Government, and current president of the Local Government Association, launched the Commission at the National Housing Federation Summit this morning.
He said: “I am delighted to be chairing this independent commission which is an unusual one because, for once, it will examine what went right rather than what went wrong.
“By general consent Everyone In was a terrific success which made a real and tangible difference to the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable members.
“What I want to do through this Commission is to look at how we can build on this for the future.
“It is an opportunity to learn, and share learning across the public sector, the health sector as well as local and central government. And if we can do that, we will have done something really valuable for this country.
“It is a brilliant Commission in terms of its membership, and I am sure it will do some brilliant work,” he said.
The Commission’s Advisory Board is made up of 17 members and includes representative from local and national government, the charity sector, housing associations and the health service, and importantly, people who have experienced homelessness themselves.
Board members include Lord Victor Adebowale the Chair of the NHS Confederation, Nickie Aiken MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, Bob Blackman MP, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Homelessness, and Andy Burnham the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
The Kerslake Commission will produce an initial findings report this summer, with a final assessment and recommendations in September.
Nickie Aiken MP said: “I am delighted to be joining this Commission. I have been involved closely with homeless service providers for over a decade on ending rough sleeping.
“I am looking forward to working with Lord Kerslake, and the other members of the board, as we seek to understand and prevent people ending up on the streets.”
Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s, which has so far helped more than 4,000 people into emergency accommodation since the first lockdown, is providing the secretariat function to the Commission.
St Mungo’s Chief Executive Steve Douglas CBE said: “A year ago this week saw the start of Everyone In, the public health emergency response to ensure that everyone sleeping on the street was provided with secure and safe accommodation, and the support that they needed.
“Since then we have seen an unprecedented effort from charities, frontline service providers, health and social services, local and central government to help people move away from sleeping rough for good.
“Lives have been saved, opportunities seized and it is clear just what can be achieved when we work together.
“St Mungo’s is pleased to be supporting Lord Kerslake in this vitally important work, and to also have one of our former clients on the Advisory Board.
“This has to be a watershed moment. Through this Commission we have the opportunity to listen, learn and change the way we address homelessness and rough sleeping.
“We believe that the ambition to achieve the goal of ending rough sleeping is achievable and this Commission will help us to understand what we all need to do, to make that a reality.”
The first meeting of the Commission will take place on Friday 26 March.