The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today (Monday 8 January) activated the pan-London Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to protect homeless people as temperatures are forecast to fall below 0°C tonight.
This is the first SWEP activation of the year and will ensure that councils across London, alongside homelessness charities, open additional emergency accommodation for people who are sleeping rough during weather conditions that could pose a threat to life.
All boroughs in London have committed to the Mayor’s ‘In for Good’ principle, which means no one will be asked to leave accommodation until a support plan is in place to end their rough sleeping, regardless of an increase in temperature.
SWEP was active for 28 nights last winter and was active for five days in November and December 2023. A total number of 1,350 people were helped off the streets last winter, with 560 people being accommodated during the first SWEP period this winter.
The Mayor’s rough sleeping services are helping more people than ever before, with more than 16,000 rough sleepers supported off the streets since 2016.
Sadiq has delivered record funding to homelessness charities and service providers across the capital, and drastically increased City Hall’s rough sleeping budget. At £36.3m, the budget in 2023/24 is now more than four times the £8.45m a year it was when Sadiq took office in 2016 .
In December, the Mayor partnered with charity TAP London to launch his annual winter rough sleeping fundraising campaign, urging Londoners to join him in his mission to help end rough sleeping in the capital. The campaign will raise money for frontline homelessness services so they can continue their life-saving work. Since 2017, Londoners have donated over £700,000 to nominated rough sleeping charities, helping to fund vital initiatives, projects and support services.
In response to the housing crisis and the soaring cost of living, the Mayor has repeatedly called on Ministers to immediately freeze private sector rents and reinstate the social security net which prevents people becoming homeless. He’s also calling on the Government to deliver their long-promised reforms to the private rented sector, including ending Section 21 evictions and to suspend the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) condition, which puts many people with NRPF status at serious risk of destitution and homelessness.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “As the cold weather returns, we stand ready to help the most vulnerable in our society. With temperatures dropping below zero across the capital I’ve activated my Severe Weather Emergency Protocol to make sure anyone seen sleeping rough in these freezing conditions is offered a place in emergency accommodation. They will also be offered support to move on to the safe, secure accommodation they need.
“Since 2016, we’ve quadrupled funding and support to tackle homelessness, helping over 16,000 rough sleepers off the streets, but there’s much more to do. For many Londoners, the cost-of-living crisis, rising rents and benefit cuts will make this winter feel longer and colder than ever. We know that these factors are forcing more people onto the streets. We’re stepping up support in London, but it’s imperative that ministers stop turning a blind eye to this crisis and play their part too.”