Housing Support – Everyone In?
Whilst the majority of working professional are gradually returning to work in the office and the UK moves away from Covid-19 restrictions, so too are ending the changes to housing support for the UK’s most vulnerable individuals, brought in as a result of the pandemic.
In March 2020, The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced several funding streams to support local authorities in their efforts to house rough sleepers and homeless support. The key purpose was for local authorities to secure accommodation for all people regardless of whether they legally had a right to support, taking no account of the usual limitations such as priority level, health conditions or immigration status. This became known as ‘Everyone In’.
Everyone who was homeless was eligible. Anyone sleeping rough was to be put into self-contained accommodation, whether it be in the form of hotels, hostels or B&B’s. It was a simple approach and, for the most part, a success.
However, this support would only remain in place whilst the pandemic was an ongoing threat. As the Delta variant began to ween, so did Everyone In. The signs that the pandemic was coming to an end, also signalled the end of the support schemes in place.
There was a brief reprieve however. In or around December 2021 the Omicron variant brought fear to the hearts of many with fear of another potential lockdown over or immediately after the Christmas holiday period. On the flip side however, the pandemic’s resurgence brought a certain sense of hope to those who had benefitted from the support systems during the pandemic, such as the beneficiaries of ‘Everyone In’. The longer there was an increased risk to health, the longer the support would remain in place. In principle anyway though this may not have been sustainable in the long term.
Everyone In to Living with Covid 19
As Covid-19 restrictions in England are replaced with the Living with Covid-19 plan, this brings with it the end of Everyone In.
Many of us are learning to adapt to the changes, ie no more working from home, no more masks, no more self-isolation. However, for those previously relying on the Everyone In scheme, this potentially means no more roof over their head.
An individual relying on ‘Everyone In’ now faces the real prospect of being pushed back onto the streets and with no ongoing support.
We’ve seen over the last 24 months that local authorities do in fact have the ability to house everyone on the streets and, more importantly, have the stock to house rough sleepers. So why can this not be a long term solution?
Campaigners such as Dame Louise Casey, ex-minister for rough sleeping, have asked for further government guidance on the next phase of the support for rough sleepers. However, with the reduction in Covid-19 measures, such pleas are likely to fall on deaf ears.
The real fear here is that local authorities will begin evicting those who they assessed under pre-Covid-19 rules to not be eligible. Surely, these rules cannot simply revert so abruptly?! Well, apparently they can.
High Court Housing case
The High Court quite possibly placed the final nail in the coffin for Everyone In after its decision in ZLL, R (On the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government  EWHC 85 when the judge dismissed a judicial review challenge over the decision to end the ’Everyone In Initiative’. This is a decision that local authorities will most likely rely on moving forward.
At this time, the MHCLG is yet to explain what will happen moving forwards. Will they continue to support those who have been given safe refuge under the scheme or will they simply end the all arrangements for housing and support. Only time will tell whether these vulnerable individuals in our society will be forgotten again.