Sadiq Khan activates SWEP

Sadiq Khan
Credit Noah Vickers/Local Democracy Reporting Service

Sadiq Khan has activated an emergency protocol aimed at taking rough sleepers off the streets after temperatures plummeted across the capital.

According to the Met Office, the temperature in London will be 2C for most of Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday, but will feel like -3C. A yellow warning of “ice and small amounts of snow” has been issued across most of southern England and south Wales.

The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), activated during weather conditions which could cause a risk to life, ensures that borough councils and homelessness charities open additional emergency accommodation for people sleeping rough.

The SWEP was active for 28 nights last winter [2022-23] and ran for five days in November and December 2023. This is the first time it has been activated in 2024.

NOW READ: What to look out for in 2024

The mayor’s office said that a total of 1,350 people were helped off the streets last winter, with 560 people being accommodated during the first SWEP period this winter.

According to City Hall, all London boroughs have committed to the mayor’s ‘In for Good’ principle, meaning 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.

Mr 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 SWEP 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.”

The Government has said it is “determined to end rough sleeping for good” and is “working hand-in-hand with the homelessness sector and other partners to make sure people have a roof over their head and the support to rebuild their lives”.

Homelessness minister and Kensington MP Felicity Buchan said in December: “We have given councils £2 billion – including nearly £190 million for London – to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, and in the capital are supporting 13 projects that provide services and emergency accommodation.”

The mayor partnered at the end of last year with charity TAP London to launch his annual winter rough sleeping fundraising campaign, urging Londoners to join him in his aim of ending rough sleeping in the capital. The campaign will raise money for frontline homelessness services.

City Hall said that since 2017, Londoners have donated more than £700,000 to nominated rough sleeping charities, helping to fund vital initiatives, projects and support services.

To donate online, visit: 

For the latest headlines from the City of London and beyond, follow City Matters on TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.