On Thursday, 24 June, LGIU and the Centre for Homelessness Impact hosted a virtual panel discussion to consider how local authorities can use evidence to put in place prevention strategies that tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
Earlier this year, the Centre for Homelessness Impact (CHI) kicked off its End It With Evidence campaign, which aims to use the opportunity presented by the pandemic to “mobilise a growing chorus of ‘what works’ champions” so that we can end homelessness effectively, and for good, by putting in place sustainable and evidence-led strategies.
The campaign is founded on three core principles, which are:
- Building the evidence of the policies, practices and programmes that achieve the most effective results to improve the lives of people who are homeless or at risk.
- Building the capacity needed to act promptly on the best knowledge available to improve decisions and help limited resources go further.
- Using evidence-led communications to change the conversation around homelessness, challenge stereotypes, and make sure that homelessness is not a defining factor in anyone’s life.
Recognising the monumental lengths that local government has gone to under the ‘Everyone In’ campaign to help rough sleepers off the street and into accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic, LGIU and the CHI believe that the time is right to share learning and best practice from the past year so that we can sustain this momentum as we recover.
We were joined by chief executives, service directors, leaders and cabinet members for housing to hear from Lígia Teixeira (Chief Executive, Centre for Homelessness Impact), Robert Pollock (Chief Executive, Cambridge City Council) and Andrew Walker (Head of Research, LGIU) who discussed how we can gather and use evidence, how we can shift the narrative around the successes and challenges of this work, and what local government’s capacity is to enable a sustainable end to homelessness.
Much of the conversation concentrated on the frequently under-utilised role of rich qualitative data, which can include accounts from service users or those or who have been through the system and come out the other side. While this data can be helpful in demonstrating value for money and centring the needs of individuals who are homeless or at risk, it is much more complex to draw conclusions from this evidence. Furthermore, as several attendees highlighted, council departments have collected a detailed and diverse dataset, but accessing this data, knowing what to do with it and ensuring that the working is joined up are issues that local authorities and their partners often struggle to overcome.
Attendees reiterated many of the recommendations set out in LGIU’s final report of our 2018 homelessness commission: longer-term funding settlements from central government, access to a high-quality, universal dataset and fewer hoops from Whitehall to jump through.
Though the challenges are numerous, the Centre for Homelessness Impact is committed to making the best use of existing resources, including this data, and is eager to have local authorities lend their voice to the End It With Evidence campaign. To learn more about this work or to get involved, look out for a briefing early next week and watch a recording of the panel discussion here.