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Councils asked to ‘redouble’ efforts to house rough sleepers

Words: Laura Edgar
Robert Jenrick / Chris McAndrew

Housing and communities secretary Robert Jenrick has asked councils to ‘redouble efforts’ to accommodate people that are sleeping rough and to ensure that they are registered with a doctor.

This is backed by an extra £10 million in funding.

The measure aims to ensure that anyone sleeping rough can be protected from Covid-19 and be contacted in order to receive a vaccine, in line with the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Given the rising infection rate and cold weather, the government has asked councils to get in touch with those who have previously refused help.

Jenrick also announced that the ban on bailiff evictions has been extended until at least 21 February because of the current national lockdown, except in the “most egregious cases”. This will be kept under review.

Jenrick said: “At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected. This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need.

“Our ongoing ‘Everyone In’ initiative is widely regarded as one of the most successful of its kind in the world, ensuring 33,000 people are safe in accommodation. We are now going further and focusing on GP registration of rough sleepers.

“We are also extending the ban on bailiff evictions – helping to protect the most vulnerable renters.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “These renewed efforts to protect people who are homeless in the pandemic will save lives.

“What is very welcome here is the two-pronged approach – a continued commitment to getting everyone into safe accommodation but also now making sure people are registered with a GP so they can quickly access the vaccines. We know through our services that people facing homelessness often are not registered with a doctor’s surgery. Addressing this issue will be a life-saving intervention and a step towards ensuring people who are homeless are protected in the longer term.”

The government added that court rules and procedures in place since September to tenants and landlords will remain in place and regularly reviewed. Landlords are still required to give tenants six months’ notice until at least 31 March.

Image credit | Chris McAndrew