Workplaces are being urged to pledge their support for employees who might be stuck in temporary accommodation or sofa-surfing by signing up to a new Homelessness Covenant.
Thames Water, cafe chain Pret A Manger and online bank Monzo are among those businesses which have helped draft the set of pledges, with the support of homelessness charity Crisis in partnership with the Government.
The covenant encourages firms to provide jobs and training opportunities for people experiencing homelessness or those at risk of it, and to adopt fairer employment and recruitment policies and practices.
Previous research from Crisis revealed that over half of the employers interviewed believed that only people rough sleeping were experiencing homelessness.
But many others can seem “hidden”, with the term homelessness also including people stuck in temporary accommodation or forced to sleep on friends and families’ sofas.
The latest official homelessness statistics showed the numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England are at record highs.
Some 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation by the end of March – a 25-year high.
The total number of children in this situation is also at the highest level since records for that measure began in 2004 – with 131,370 children living in temporary accommodation as of the end of March this year.
The covenant, supported by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), also calls on employers to use fundraising, partnerships and volunteering as part of efforts to help end homelessness in local communities.
Crisis chief executive Matt Downie said the new covenant will offer employers “the right tools” to support people in need.
He said: “With almost one in four households in-work experiencing homelessness, it is vital that businesses understand all forms of homelessness – such as sofa-surfing and living in temporary accommodation – to ensure that their employees at risk can receive the support they need.
“Those in work and experiencing homelessness face a huge battle – many choose to conceal their circumstances out of fear they could lose their jobs, leaving them isolated from their colleagues. Daily activities like eating, sleeping and washing become extremely difficult to manage and often become a huge strain on their physical and mental wellbeing.
“We need everyone to play a part in tackling homelessness, and this includes businesses and employers providing the right assistance to staff when they fall on hard times.”
Social mobility minister Mims Davies said: “Employment and progression is key to preventing and ending homelessness and this new and vital covenant will give employers the knowledge they need to support employees at risk of losing their home or rough sleeping.
“We need businesses large and small to lean in to help end homelessness, and I urge them to sign up to being part of the covenant and help us by playing their part in opening up opportunities for all, and further supporting employees in difficult times and those keen to get into the labour market.”
Housing and homelessness minister Felicity Buchan said: “I encourage businesses to sign up as it will provide the tools and guidance staff need and also empower employees to come forward knowing advice and support is available.”