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Leicester’s homelessness strategy 2023-2028


This is Leicester’s fifth Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. Housing is a human right and this strategy outlines Leicester’s commitment to ending rough sleeping and tackling all forms of homelessness.
The impacts of homelessness can be devastating for individuals and families. It can affect both physical and mental health, educational and employment opportunities (for both adults and children) and has long term consequences for those affected.

During the COVID pandemic Leicester’s homelessness services provided accommodation and support to over 1,000 households at risk of rough sleeping and those in temporary accommodation with shared facilities. This involved a huge effort from a range of services and individuals and indicates the level of commitment there is locally to support people facing homelessness.

There are ongoing challenges, particularly with the cost-of-living crisis hitting household budgets, and continued pressures on council finances. We are seeing more people approach services for homelessness support and advice.

Leicester City Council and homelessness partners across Leicester will continue to work to do all they can to end the plight of homelessness and will lobby government to respond to the housing crisis. This strategy sets out Leicester’s priorities and the actions that will be taken locally to prevent people from becoming homeless wherever possible and provide support and advice when homelessness cannot be prevented. This five-year strategy looks at strengthening the already high level of partnership working across Leicester and how we can continue to make significant improvements across homelessness services.

Councillor Cutkelvin
Deputy City Mayor
Profile image for Councillor Cutkelvin, Deputy City Mayor

Leicester's Homelessness Charter statement

It is very encouraging to note how grounded this strategy is in understanding the reality of life in our great city, recognising both successes and challenges. There are many of both! As Councillor Cutkelvin notes, the impact of homelessness on individuals and families is devastating, and we should strive continually both to mitigate this and to open up pathways out of homelessness, but also to work upstream on prevention.

Partnership is key and we, of the Homelessness Charter, are proud to be able to both facilitate and strengthen ways of working together across agencies, disciplines and sectors, and in collaboration with faith and community groups, and also, most importantly with people who have direct lived experience of homelessness.

The momentum for partnership has grown significantly since the Charter’s inception. We know life is a struggle for many, and we know that public and charitable funding have many demands upon them, so it is incumbent upon us all to ensure best practice, which not only makes the most of the resources available but also, through our working together well, provides effective joined up services at the point of need. The consultative process out of which this strategy has emerged is testimony to our collective intent.

Revd Canon Alison Adams

Chair, Leicester’s Homelessness Charter


The context in which we deliver this strategy is challenging and may change. National challenges, such as changes to welfare policies, the cost-of-living crisis, local housing allowance not keeping pace with rents and the housing crisis, are likely to result in more households seeking housing support.

There is no ‘quick fix’ to resolving many of the broader social and economic challenges, and in the context of shrinking council budgets it is important to ensure our plans are prioritised. This strategy reflects what we can do locally.
Defining homelessness
People can be homeless if they have nowhere to stay and are sleeping on the streets (also known as rough sleeping). They can also be considered homeless (also known as the hidden homeless) even if they have a roof over their head. This means that homelessness can also include people who are:
- Sofa surfing (temporarily staying with friends or family)
- Staying in a hostel, night shelter or bed & breakfast accommodation
- Squatting
- Homeless because of violence or abuse in their home
- Living in poor conditions which affect their health
- Living apart from their family because they don’t have a place to live together.
This strategy has been drawn up from a robust evidence base (the homelessness review), which looks at patterns and trends in homelessness and the effectiveness of different interventions in preventing homelessness.

This strategy is accompanied by an action plan setting out specific actions we will take. Our action plan will be reviewed and updated annually.

Homelessness in Leicester

Key achievements 2018 - 2023

  • During the pandemic over 1,000 households were assisted with accommodation and support. The council and a wide range of services worked quickly and adapted their services to provide accommodation, healthcare, food, and other support to homeless people affected by the pandemic.
  • Additional temporary accommodation was quickly mobilised, working with local hotels to provide self-contained accommodation to enable people to self-isolate and prevent the spread of COVID
  • Leicester’s Homeless Charter launched in November 2018
  • Since 2018 Leicester has secured an additional £10m to support work to tackle homelessness
  • Improved homelessness prevention services in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017
  • Strong ‘off the street’ offer for those identified as rough sleeping. Extended outreach services (covering weekends) and supported by health services, and drug and alcohol and peer support services
  • Leicester, compared with other cities, has a wide range of homelessness services commissioned by the local authority as well as other provision funded by the third sector. This includes temporary accommodation, outreach services, one-to-one support staff, physical and mental health services, floating support services, substance misuse services, skills and employment services, day centres, food, and arts services
  • Nationally recognised specialist health services for individuals who are homeless.

Picture of homelessness in Leicester

  • Generally, the number of households approaching the council for assistance has increased year on year. In 2018/19 4,756 households sought help from the council whereas in 2021/22 this was over 5,000 households
  • Support provided by council homelessness staff prevent homelessness in over 2 out of 3 cases
  • There is a lack of affordable housing options
  • Around half of singles presenting to homelessness services have support needs. Of these, a quarter have mental health support needs and over 20% have complex support needs (2 or more support issues)
  • Leicester’s annual rough sleeping snapshot numbers returned to pre-pandemic after reducing in 2020 and 2021
  • Since July 2022 we have seen an alarming rise in family homelessness, primarily from the private rented sector. This increase has also been reflected nationally.

Future levels of homelessness in Leicester

  • Increasing numbers of households approaching homelessness services and requiring temporary accommodation. We expect this to continue with the cost-of-living crisis and other pressures facing households.
  • Previously outreach services mainly supported individuals known over many years to be rough sleeping, however, we are now seeing many ‘new’ individuals not previously known to be rough sleeping in the city.
  • Limited affordable housing options available to households, which unless addressed, will increase pressures on homelessness services, not just because additional households require support but because those in temporary accommodation do not have anywhere affordable to move-on to. This also impacts on the prevention of homelessness, for example, finding an alternative affordable home to prevent homelessness from occurring.

Our priorities for the next five years

Our overarching priorities for this strategy continue to be:

  • wherever possible stop people from becoming homeless
  • wherever possible stop people sleeping rough for the first time.
  • improve early action/intervention and support so homelessness is as brief as possible
  • improve support to those currently sleeping rough to move off the streets.
  • enable access to settled housing and support where needed for people who have been homeless, so homelessness doesn’t reoccur
  • enhanced support to those who have slept rough to ensure they don’t return to the streets.
  • enhance partnership working to improve services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.


Successfully preventing and relieving homelessness has always been and remains the main aim and focus of the council’s Homelessness Prevention Service. Preventing homelessness avoids the trauma and upheaval of homelessness.

Prevention actions include any activities aimed at preventing a household threatened with homelessness from becoming homeless. This includes initiatives which enable a person to remain in their current home or find alternative accommodation to prevent them from becoming homeless.

The council works with partners to understand and address the root causes of homelessness within the city and encourages these organisations to actively seek to identify people at risk of homelessness and to refer them for help at an early stage when support could prevent homelessness.

Early intervention can take the form of advice and information, mediation services; proactive interventions, such as negotiating with landlords to enable people to retain their tenancies; or assistance with debt. Housing advice is available and tailored to the needs of specific vulnerable groups, such as those leaving prison or youth detention; care leavers; former members of the armed forces; people leaving hospital; people experiencing domestic abuse; and those experiencing mental illness.

Addressing homelessness from the private rented sector is critical and we will continue to work with private sector landlords and lettings agents to understand how best to engage with them and to build an early alert system, so they contact us if their tenants are at risk of homelessness.
Spotlight on: Private sector relations team
During 2022/23 the private rented sector team worked to sustain 104 private rented sector tenancies.

The team offers a range of services including:
- Negotiation with landlords to secure new tenancies where these are sustainable and affordable for the tenant
- Providing financial support with rent arrears or rent shortfalls
- Providing advice and support to landlords and tenants
Poster explaining why private renting may be your best option
Early identification of problems, early targeted interventions and the provision of high-quality advice and assistance will ensure people have the best chance of staying in their home or obtaining alternative accommodation.

Our key objectives

  • Review and improve engagement and initiatives available for private rented sector tenants & landlords
  • Maximise funding available that enables people to maintain their tenancies
  • Continue work to improve standards in the private rented sector
  • Increase awareness of the range of housing options for households
  • Review awareness and improve information for partners relating to referrals of cases early to prevent homelessness
  • Develop targeted support to prevent people from rough sleeping
  • Training, development, and support programme for homelessness prevention staff.


When homelessness does occur, our aim is to ensure that it is as brief as possible. Leicester has a range of services for households who are eligible for support and offers support to anyone who is found rough sleeping. In periods of severe weather additional support is offered to anyone rough sleeping.

Leicester has a team of staff providing outreach support for individuals who are rough sleeping. They engage with individuals on the street, signposting to services and referring to accommodation. There are tailored interventions for people on the streets based on individual needs, including support for people that have experienced long-term rough sleeping.

Case study: Outreach in action

Male in coat with writing on the back it reads 'Rough Sleeping Team, supporting the homeless, Leicester City Council'

David (not his real name) had been sleeping rough for many years. He had a history of problematic substance use and poor mental health, he was known to the police, and he did not always want support.

Support workers engaged with David to enter temporary accommodation and engage with substance use treatment services and then into settled accommodation. David relapsed and his property was taken over and he was not able to return to this property for his own safety. He did rough sleep on occasion (even when alternative accommodation was available) and there was a serious decline in his physical and mental health and David was admitted to hospital.

Supporting David required a lot of multi-agency work with housing, homelessness, substance misuse, mental health, primary care and hospital services, the police, and voluntary services. This work has made sure David is now safe and reduced identified risks and a new safe tenancy is being identified for David.

There are also a range of organisations, charities and faith groups offering a range of services, including healthcare, practical support, food, peer support, housing, advice and signposting.

Interventions are required where households advise they are already homeless to the council’s homelessness prevention service. In these cases, support and advice is provided. This can include help to secure alternative accommodation. The council can refer households to a range of different organisations that provide accommodation and support (temporary accommodation).

Bed and breakfast, or accommodation without access to cooking facilities and other living space, is not suitable for anyone to live in and can affect people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is not to use this type of accommodation or when it is used, only for a very short time. There is not enough affordable settled accommodation available, households are staying in temporary accommodation longer while they wait to move to a suitable home.

We want to manage people's expectations so that they understand when they approach our services that we are not able to offer many people council housing but can offer a wide range of other services to help them into a stable home. Addressing homelessness requires those affected, the council and other partners to work together to find a solution.

Our key objectives

  • Eliminate the use of bed and breakfast paid nightly accommodation
  • Improve access to information and services so clients can easily access information and support early and are realistic about likely outcomes
  • Continue to provide and strengthen rough sleeping outreach services, providing on-going offers of support to anyone rough sleeping in Leicester
  • Explore all funding opportunities to develop intervention services in Leicester
  • Ensure temporary accommodation and support is available, where needed, for families and for other vulnerable people and appropriate support is provided to move-on to settled accommodation.


The lack of affordable housing options is a key challenge in tackling homelessness. Waiting times for council housing are increasing. Market rents are increasing and are well above local housing allowance rates which means that many on low incomes can find it very difficult to access private rented housing. More social housing has been developed locally by the council and other registered providers; however, demand far outstrips supply and many social rental homes are also lost through the right to buy scheme. The council is committed to working to improve standards in the private rented sector and working with landlords providing good quality homes through delivery of it’s private rented sector strategy.

The limited supply of both affordable housing and supported accommodation has not only significantly increased the number of households living in temporary accommodation but also the length of time they spend there before a settled housing solution can be found.

Housing is central to promoting good health and wellbeing. Having a stable home is often a platform from which individuals feel they can then engage with other support services. However, some household’s homelessness cannot be solved solely through the provision of accommodation. Some households require a range of support services to help them sustain their accommodation as well as personal support relating to factors such as relationship breakdown, domestic abuse, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, offending, poverty, debt, and unemployment.

There are a wide range of accommodation and support initiatives available locally for households to recover from homelessness. The council, charities and organisations provide a range of accommodation-based support and other support services that assist individuals who have been homeless. There are also a wide range of wider support services in Leicester providing households with mental health support, drug and alcohol support, domestic abuse, poverty, debt and unemployment.
Spotlight on: St Mungo's Recovery College

Group of people in overalls stood next to a St Mungo's college banner
Delivered in partnership with Leicester City Council, local businesses and the community, the St Mungo’s Recovery College offers inclusive learning, training and employment support to people recovering from homelessness.

A team of employment specialists provide intensive, individual support to those facing unemployment and homelessness, and build relationships with local employers to create sustainable opportunities in line with clients’ skills and interests.

Clients can access a gardening training project and a construction skills programme. Other courses on offer include arts and crafts, IT skills, maths and English, life coaching, digital confidence, and digital employability.

St Mungo’s multi skills centre opened in partnership with Leicester City Council in September 2022. Students can learn and train in a variety of skills like plumbing, carpentry, tiling, painting and decorating, working towards a basic qualification and also gain practical experience with the council’s repairs service. Over the last year the centre has engaged over 18 people who have experienced homelessness and four individuals have already completed their OCN in multi skills trades.
The council secures additional funding for initiatives to support people who are homeless with complex needs and will continue to explore all additional funding opportunities. Some examples of support schemes that are available:
  • A new multi-agency team (Changing Futures) providing intensive and specialist support for individuals experience multiple disadvantage
  • Additional support to help people recover from drugs and alcohol misuse. Including accommodation where individuals get support in maintaining a tenancy and specialist homelessness officers
  • Specialist longer-term accommodation with additional support for individuals who were rough sleeping
  • Additional social workers to work with individuals who are homelessness but do not meet the adult social care statutory threshold.

Our key objectives

Continue social housing development through the council’s local plan and affordable homes programme and ongoing council house building and acquisitions programme.
  • Explore all funding opportunities to develop specialist accommodation and support services for people to recover from homelessness
  • Develop schemes so people can continue to access affordable, good quality homes in the private rented sector
  • Connect people to local services, physical and mental-health services, education, cultural and leisure activities, housing and welfare support, training, volunteering, and employment opportunities.


It is widely recognised that no single organisation can prevent or relieve homelessness. The causes of homelessness are multiple and complex and many of these are not housing related.

Government and partners have a role to play in preventing homelessness and addressing the underlying issues that are the root causes of homelessness, such as poverty, unemployment, poor physical and mental health, adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and family breakdown - preventing homelessness is everybody's business.

Leicester has extensive partnership working arrangements; however, we continue to strive to build on and improve our partnership working. Working effectively together we can achieve more.
Spotlight on: Leicester's Homelessness Charter - examples of the Charter’s work to date

Leicester's Homelessness Charter logo

The Charter & Dear Albert (a peer-led recovery focused social enterprise) established the HOPE forum which seeks to elevate the voices of people who have experienced homelessness. This is a peer network with opportunities for them to contribute their personal insight and expertise.

The HOPE forum meets monthly and has provided feedback to a range of services, commissioners, and parliament.

In 2019 a new scheme, Give Leicester, was set up by BID Leicester, Leicester City Council, and The Charter to establish donation points across the city where people can donate £3 to help support people who are experiencing homelessness.

To date this has supported local homeless charities One Roof Leicester, The Bridge Homelessness to HOPE raising over £46,000.

Our key objectives

  • Improve communication and raise awareness of homelessness support and services available for people locally
  • Work with partners to identify how those with lived experience of homelessness can be included in the design and delivery of services
  • Sharing knowledge and experience and improving partnership working across the sector
  • Work with the voluntary and third sector, empowering and growing their homelessness service provision so that it is sustainable and resilient to future funding changes.

Action Plan

The key to the delivery of this strategy is the collaborative work across the council and its partners. We are committed to maintaining and building on existing partnership work to support people to stay in their properties, or to find lasting and affordable housing options.

The strategy will be underpinned with an action plan which will be flexible and respond to emerging needs, trends, and policy changes. The action plan sets out the individual actions and activities to be undertaken and details how the council and partners will achieve the aims and objectives of the strategy. There will be a dedicated steering group to ensure that the actions plan is regularly monitored and reviewed, and regular progress updates will be presented to the housing scrutiny commission.