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03/04/2018

£30m for local authorities to address rough sleeping

Words: Laura Edgar
Homelessness / Shutterstock_351803642

Housing secretary Sajid Javid has announced a £30 million fund for 2018 to 2019 that is targeted at local authorities with high numbers of people sleeping rough.

He also announced that a new Rough Sleeping Team, comprising rough sleeping and homelessness experts drawn from and funded by government departments and agencies, will be established.

The team, with knowledge across housing, mental health and addiction, will work with the local authorities with high numbers of rough sleepers to support them to develop tailored local interventions to bring down the number.

Additionally, £100,000 will go towards supporting frontline rough sleeping workers across the country so they have the right skills and knowledge to work with vulnerable rough sleepers.

The announcement comes as the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force today (3 April).

Javid said: “This winter has tragically claimed the lives of a number of people sleeping on the streets. This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain.

“No one should ever have to sleep rough and this government is determined to break the homelessness cycle once and for all.

“Tackling the causes of rough sleeping is undoubtedly complex but we must do all we can – working across central and local government, the voluntary and charity sector – to help the most vulnerable in society and eliminate rough sleeping for good.”

David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation and member of the rough sleeping advisory panel, welcomed the government’s plans.

“People are being let down. Seeking help, only to be told they are not a priority and that there is 'no requirement to house them'. Far too many are being left to live on the streets without the support they need.

"This cross-departmental working to support rough sleepers with complex needs is bold and innovative. It has the potential to make a big difference. We also look forward to exploring the use of more housing association properties to help people off the streets and into housing. However, we need to be mindful this work does not displace other vulnerable families currently on council waiting lists. The numbers of people in temporary accommodation is already growing rapidly.”

For Greg Beales, campaigns director at Shelter, the “money and manpower” will make a “genuine” difference, but will only work if it is a “down payment with much more to come in the forthcoming national rough-sleeping strategy”.

“You cannot break the cycle of homelessness for good without putting in place proper safety nets to keep people off the streets in the first place, and without thinking about where they will actually live in the long term. Most of these people became homeless simply because they couldn’t afford anywhere to live, a situation made far worse by welfare cuts.

“We very much hope that the government’s new strategy will go far enough in removing the barriers that deny people a safe, secure and affordable home. That means building more social homes to rent, and making sure housing benefit is fit for purpose,” concluded Beales.

Image credit | Shutterstock

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