Decision Maker Response
Sadiq Khan’s response
Sep 28, 2018 — Dear Petitioner,
Thank you for the petition submitted on the change.org website about installing public showers in London for those who are sleeping rough in the capital.
Like you, the Mayor is very concerned about people sleeping rough in London and he is determined to ensure there is a route off the street for everyone in the capital experiencing this injustice. To this end, the Mayor is spending £8.5 million per year on London-wide rough sleeping services. This funding provides a range of different initiatives, which complement the services commissioned by local authorities. You can find information on all those services on the City Hall website through the following link: www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/homelessness. The Mayor has also recently secured an additional £3.3 million from Government to enhance and expand these services for the year to April 2019, to enable them to support more people than ever before. This expansion includes doubling the number of outreach workers in the Mayor’s London Street Rescue team and providing £600,000 to boost winter night shelters.
The Mayor is also making the case to national government that they should fully fund services for rough sleepers, and honestly tackle the root causes of homelessness. He recently published his Rough Sleeping Plan of Action, available to read through the link provided above, which details both the work he is currently doing to help people into permanent accommodation, and the action that could be taken with adequate support from central government. That support would need to include both financial commitment and changes to the policies and practices which have contributed to the rise in rough sleeping, including changes to the welfare system. The Mayor’s strategy for tackling wider forms of homelessness and addressing London’s housing crisis more broadly is outlined in the London Housing Strategy, and can be viewed on the City Hall website at: www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/tackling-londons-housing-crisis.
The Mayor agrees that basic amenities, and the dignity they afford, should be available to everyone. There are at least 40 day centres in London, many of which offer showers and the opportunity to wash clothes. While I am not aware of any plans to install free public showers across the capital, the Mayor’s outreach service, London Street Rescue, supports rough sleepers to access these day centres.
With that in mind, the Mayor’s priority is facilitating a safe, secure and permanent route off the street for everyone forced to sleep rough in London. Whilst using day centres to shower unfortunately places some restriction on the times that the facilities are accessible, it does put rough sleepers in touch with other services which work to support them to leave rough sleeping, rather than just providing a means of sustaining themselves whilst they are sleeping rough. Day centres can provide advice, guidance and advocacy on housing, employment, welfare benefits and a whole range of other issues.
The Mayor is planning to do more to support smaller charities and community groups, many of which provide day centres and local winter night shelters. This expansion of their capacity will mean that more people who are currently sleeping rough will have better access to showers and similar facilities.
Public Liaison Unit
Greater London Authority