Homelessness is on the rise outside of the big cities and larger towns.
Meanwhile, in rural areas, homeless people of all ages often go unseen and don’t access services designed to help. They are camping, sofa-surfing, and sheltering in industrial or agricultural buildings which are isolated in location. This means that rural rough sleepers are frequently hidden from local councils and government data.
If homelessness is increasing in rural areas, this almost certainly means something similar is happening across urban Britain.
Young people are particularly vulnerable, with data from Centrepoint showing that approximately 121,000 young people asked for help with homelessness during 2020/21.
With difficult economic headwinds impacting everyone, young and vulnerable people are most at risk of finding themselves in challenging circumstances over the coming years.
A wealth of experience and a plan to deliver
Businessman and philanthropist, Javad Marandi, is co-chairing an exciting new initiative that aims to tackle homelessness head-on. Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme is building 300 rent-capped homes for disadvantaged young people in London and Manchester.
This will cost each tenant a third of their salary, giving them the chance to be responsible for their own homes. For young people who have been or who are vulnerable to homelessness, this is a significant step forward, helping to prepare them for a life outside Centrepoint in a job and home of their own.
To be eligible for the scheme, young people will need to secure work with a partner business that has signed up for the Centrepoint Works Scheme. To help them secure employment they will be given access to skills training, further education, career advice, job applications, CVs and interview tips. Once they’re employed, they can then apply for a home via the Independent Living Scheme.
While 300 homes in two UK cities may sound relatively modest, the aim is to build 30,000 homes across the country, including in rural areas over the coming years.
Javad Marandi said it was important to “…have a nationwide scheme which not only makes economic sense but which has a proper impact on society”.
He believes that as the project develops it will take on momentum of its own:
“I am confident that when we can show concrete evidence of how this scheme works, both practically and economically, we will be looking at building 30,000 homes across the country, helping people whatever their stage of life.”
The Centrepoint initiative gives young people a degree of stability. Their rent will be capped at a third of their salary, meaning in most cases rents will be highly competitive when compared to market rates. This would typically mean that a young person in London who earns £18,000 per year would not pay more than £500 per month. This compares highly favourably to market rents which according to HomeLet, is £1,832 on average for new tenants.
Overcoming the novelty factor
As well as being beneficial to the young people involved, the scheme will also deliver benefits to employers. It could help businesses solve their recruitment challenges while having a positive impact overall on spiraling wage inflation.
Marandi believes that as the scheme develops, more investors and employers will want to get involved:
“At the moment, the biggest hurdle to the growth of Centrepoint Independent Living is the novelty of the programme,” says Marandi. “It’s never been done before and, as with anything revolutionary, you have to prove the concept to all interested parties: potential investors, national and local government, and employers looking to sign up for the scheme. There is a chance for all to benefit and to be part of something truly extraordinary.”
A programme with potential
The UK is facing a range of economic and structural challenges with the cost of living being the most significant and pressing. High relative rents, particularly for young people, are making it difficult for them to establish independent lives and take up long-term employment opportunities.
The Centrepoint Independent Living Programme could provide a viable model not only for younger people but for people of all ages who are looking for a realistic next step in rebuilding their lives.