Former Troubled Families tsar Dame Louise Casey is to return to Whitehall to lead an urgent Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government review into the causes of rough sleeping.
Casey first joined government in 1999 from housing charity Shelter to head the then-Labour government’s Rough Sleepers Unit, and went to hold a number of posts in the civil service including heading the national anti social behaviour unit and being director general of Troubled Families programme in the Department for Communities and Local Government. She left government in 2017 to focus on voluntary sector and academic work. In the intervening period she has publicly voiced concerns over the impact the rollout of Universal Credit was having on homelessness and the number of children being taken into care.
No.10 Downing Street said Casey would report to both prime minister Boris Johnson and housing secretary Robert Jenrick.
“She will consider as part of the urgent review the links between 24-hour street activity and rough sleeping and how best we can support this group,” the prime minister’s office said of the review.
“It will also look into those struggling with drug and alcohol misuse, and those with physical and mental health issues.”
Casey’s appointment came as Johnson and Jenrick announced a package of measures to tackle rough sleeping, including an “extra £236m” towards providing accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers and those at immediate risk of rough sleeping.
Johnson said he was confident Casey would be able to provide “expert advice” on vital next steps.
“We must tackle the scourge of rough sleeping urgently, and I will not stop until the thousands of people in this situation are helped off the streets and their lives have been rebuilt,” he said.
The latest package of measures to end rough sleeping comes almost nine years after the “No Second Night Out” programme launched in the capital, when Johnson was Mayor of London, with the aim of ensuring that no rough sleepers needed to spend more than one night without somewhere indoors to sleep. At the time Johnson had a strategy of ending rough-sleeping in the capital by 2012.
David Cameron’s coalition government rolled out pilot versions of No Second Night Out in towns and cities across the country.
No timeframe for the Casey review was given by No. 10, however the announcement of her appointment said she had been asked to provide advice on ending rough sleeping during the course of the parliament.
News of Casey's new role comes on the same day the latest statistics “snapshot” on rough sleeping showed 4,266 people in England were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night in England, as of autumn last year. While the figure is a 9% decrease on 2018, it is a 141% increase since 2010.