The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has announced plans to ban people sleeping rough in urban areas from using tents, and to impose a new civil offence to deter charities from giving tents to homeless people, in a move that will put lives at risk this winter, making people more vulnerable to cold weather, violence and exploitation. In a series of posts on X, she also said that homelessness in the UK was a ‘lifestyle choice’, and that many of those enduring homelessness are ‘from abroad.’ 

NACCOM has joined with leading homelessness charities in writing to the Home Secretary to urge a reversal of these plans, and to bring in workable solutions to end homelessness for good, for everyone, rather than scapegoating those experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping.  

Our statement: 

‘NACCOM strongly condemns plans by the Home Secretary to ban rough sleepers from using tents in urban areas, as well as making it an offence for charities to give tents out. Banning tents will put lives at risk by exposing people to extreme weather, violence and exploitation.  

Preventing support organisations from providing even this most basic form of shelter – a last resort for any charity – shows a callous disregard for human life and unwillingness to engage meaningfully with the complexities of homelessness. We urge the Home Secretary to work with charities and agencies – not against us – to find long-term solutions to homelessness and rough sleeping, rather than impose cruel and ineffective measures that endanger lives.    

No-one chooses a tent over a home, and it is deeply insulting and lacking in compassion to suggest that people of any nationality would choose rough sleeping as a ‘lifestyle choice’. This situation is entirely of the Government’s own making, due to a lack of appropriate support services, over-stretched Local Authorities, chronic housing shortages, and hostile immigration policy. Scapegoating marginalised and vulnerable people seeks only to stoke division and blame, and distracts from the real issues at hand. 

As we know only too well from our members’ frontline work with refugees and people in the asylum and immigration system, punitive policies such as this only serve to drive people further into hardship and destitution. Currently, every day across our network we hear from charities that are struggling to accommodate and support the many hundreds of refugees who are finding themselves facing homelessness. The answer is not to criminalise them and those who try to support them.  

Together with leading homelessness charities, we’ve written to the Home Secretary to raise our concerns and ask for an urgent reversal of these plans.’