London activates rough sleeping severe weather plan

The London Severe Weather Emergency Protocols (SWEP) have been activated for the first time in 2022 to protect homeless people as temperatures drop below zero.

The activation of SWEP compels councils across London (alongside homelessness charities) to open emergency accommodation for people who are sleeping rough during weather conditions that could pose a threat to life.

To avoid the risk of Covid infections, the Mayor has asked boroughs that only single-occupancy accommodation such as hotel rooms be used for SWEP provision. 

St. Paul's Cathedral

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘Too many people are facing a cold winter on the streets of the capital, without the safe, secure accommodation that should be the basic right of every Londoner.

‘Across London, we will do everything we can to avoid anyone being forced to sleep rough in these freezing conditions. As ever, London’s councils and charities will be working hard over the weekend to support some of the most vulnerable people in our city. On behalf of all Londoners I thank them for their tireless efforts.’

The Mayor recently invested £800,000 in new homeless accommodation at a hotel in east London, offering a further 66 SWEP beds on top off the 500 provided by London boroughs.

A further boost to London’s capacity is expected next month, taking the total number of SWEP places to more than 600 for the first time.

The Mayor is expected to spend a record £1.25m on SWEP services this winter.

All London councils have also committed to implementing the Mayor’s ‘In for Good’ principle, meaning that once someone has accessed SWEP accommodation, they are accommodated until a support plan is in place to end their rough sleeping – regardless of whether the temperature has risen above freezing.

In related news, tens of thousands of people are expected to be protected from homelessness thanks to a £316m funding boost announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX


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