What a roundtable with employers taught us about working to end homelessness

Saskia Neibig, Senior Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Officer

Crisis services have years of experience offering IT courses, tiling classes, English lessons, help with job applications and more, so we know a lot about how to support people into getting a job, and leaving homelessness behind. 88% of people who experience homelessness want to access work. A job helps people to pay their rent, but it’s also so much more.  

In a roundtable with employers yesterday, the Minister for Homelessness, Eddie Hughes talked about the excitement of his first job offer, and the pride he has been able to take in working as a civil engineer. Jobs offer people confidence, structure and independence. Good jobs can offer the opportunity to progress and to fulfil ambitions. 

However, a job alone does not solve homelessness. Our analysis shows that 1 in 5 homeless households in England have people in work. The roundtable brought together Ministers, the homelessness sector and employers to think about how to strengthen employment as a route out of homelessness.  

Employers can play a key role by making job opportunities available and accessible to people who have experienced homelessness, and that jobs are fit for purpose. One presentation highlighted the support that the Pret Foundation offers to people leaving homelessness behind, by providing training and support that continue when the person is in post. With 80% graduation rates from the programme, the Foundation is helping to place people in Pret a Manger shops, with opportunities for progression. 

By looking at the 20% who don’t graduate, Pret highlighted the areas where employers and employees need government support. Some people end up leaving the programme because they don’t have accommodation, making it much harder to work. When people aren’t able to sleep properly, it’s much harder for them to stay in training and employment. People need support to find a job and a home, so that they can sustain both. That may also include support with health and social issues, or to maximise their incomes so that work always pays.  

Integrating housing and employment support 

DWP can do a lot to support people into work and housing in an integrated way, by ensuring that there is dedicated resourcing to work with employers and strategic partners like local authorities and homelessness services.  

The Minister for Welfare Delivery, David Rutley, encouraged employers and homelessness charities to work with Jobcentres to support people experiencing homelessness. Strategic resourcing would help them to do so.   

Crisis has worked in pilots with DWP in several locations and found how important work coach training is in supporting people experiencing homelessness. If work coaches could be trained to properly identify homelessness and tailor their support and benefit requirements accordingly, then people would be better able to manage their money and access support.  

Employers can prevent homelessness through good employment practices

Crisis is playing its part by developing a best practice guide for employers, which will show how policies and employment conditions can prevent homelessness, rather than contribute to it. The guide is coming out later this year, and will pull together recommendations from the International Labour Organisation, evidence from Business in the Community and experience from employers. Crisis has looked at how to improve our practices, and once published, we will be calling on employers to use the guide to improve theirs.  

For example, employment contracts with minimum hours make it so much easier for someone to access and sustain a tenancy. Fair wages mean that people can afford their rent, and when people need to leave their home, it is useful for people to have the flexibility at work to view properties stabilise their situation. 

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