This research report explores the growing number of young people sleeping rough during the pandemic and evaluates the support that is available to them.

Executive summary

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated many of the challenges homeless young people face, from unemployment and difficulties accessing education, to challenges accessing secure and truly affordable accommodation. This research report outlines the impact that COVID-19 has had on young people in terms of rough sleeping, accessing support and accommodation.

Key findings and recommendations:


  • Growing numbers of young people sleeping rough: Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents to Centrepoint’s survey expect to see an increase in the numbers of young people sleeping rough in the coming months.
  • A lack of suitable provision and support for young people: Only 22 per cent of services report that there is sufficient support available for young people forced to sleep rough in their area
  • New investment not sufficient to meet increased demand: Less than a third (30 per cent) of services agreed that their current levels of funding were sufficient to cope with the additional challenges and demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increasingly difficult to access housing advice: Eight in ten organisations think that it has become more difficult for young people to access housing advice and support since the start of the pandemic
  • Restricted access to move on accommodation: A significant majority (76 per cent) of respondents said that the pandemic had made it harder for young people to find and access move on accommodation.
  • Impact on frontline service delivery: 78 per cent had moved to online and remote delivery of services, and over half (54 per cent) had suspended or reduced certain services due to restrictions.


  • The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) should ensure that all local authorities have sufficient resources to commission age specific supported accommodation and housing options for young people facing homelessness.
  • MHCLG should establish a centralised portal for accessing local authority housing services, and work with authorities to guarantee minimum standards of accessibility and clarity for those seeking support
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should immediately bring forward the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) exemption for homeless under-25s and care leavers (current planned for 2023) in light of the pandemic and a projected increase in homelessness.
  • The DWP should make the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift permanent
  • The DWP should commit to maintaining the Local Housing Allowance at the thirtieth percentile of local market rents beyond 2020/21