Rebecca Keating, Director of Employment Services for The Salvation Army said: “We welcome the £3m investment to help homeless people access essential benefits but it is not enough to break the cycle of homelessness.
Accessing benefits is not enough to prevent someone from sleeping on the streets, you must help them recover from the reasons they ended up rough sleeping in the first place.
People end up homeless for lots of complex reasons including spiralling mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions and abusive relationships.
Most of us would struggle to find housing and employment under those circumstances. We need to make sure employment support for homeless people is linked to other support services like health, counselling and employment and skills training.
At The Salvation Army we don’t just provide food and shelter for homeless people - we help people forced to sleep rough to put their lives back together to keep them off the streets for good.
At our Riverside centre in east London our homelessness support services and Employment Plus programmes work together to give women the opportunity to move towards work or training. Residents get one-to-one and group lessons in things like computer skills which make it more likely they will get a job.
In Cardiff, The Salvation Army already works informally with the jobcentre and staff make occasional visits to one of our Lifehouses (supported housing) to support homeless people with benefit applications.
The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to:
- Make additional investment in services that join up support for rough sleepers in finding employment and tackling the many reasons that lead to their homelessness, like mental ill health, addictions and problems keeping a tenancy.
- Go further in providing specialist, tailored support so that people can easily make and continue their claim for Universal Credit through the online system.
- The Salvation Army is pleased to note the Government’s manifesto commitment of £500m to support disadvantaged people with the skills they need to make a success of life. The Salvation Army urges the Government to release and consult on a detailed plan of how they intend to ensure that this money is spent efficiently and effectively.