Government announce £105m next step for rough sleepers

The funding will find alternative homes for the 14,600 people currently housed in hotels while work continues to find safe, long-term homes

The government will invest £105m to prevent rough sleepers returning to the streets once their stay in hotels finishes at the end of the month.

The Everyone In scheme has seen 14,610 rough sleepers housed in hotels since the end of March with the government setting up the Rough Sleeping Taskforce, chaired by Dame Louise Casey, to find safe, long-term homes beyond the Covid-19 lockdown.

That led to a pledge to make 6,000 housing units available – including 3,300 in the next 12 months – backed by accelerated funding of £433m to allow Dame Casey to work with councils to find suitable properties.

But with hotels due to return to their regular business at the end of June, there remained the risk that rough sleepers housed during the crisis would return to the streets.

The government has vowed to ensure that doesn’t happen since March and backed up their efforts today, with £85m of new funding from the Treasury alongside £20m from refocusing existing homelessness and rough sleeping budgets.

That money will be used to cover deposits for accommodation and securing alternative rooms already available and ready for use, with the government targeting student accommodation which is left empty over the summer months as one alternative to hotels.

In addition, a further £16m will also be available to provide specialist help for people in emergency accommodation who are dealing with substance misuse issues.

“In recent months, I have seen a huge effort across the country to keep almost 15,000 vulnerable people off the streets,” said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick. “This has been vital to ensure their safety during the peak of the pandemic and has changed the lives of thousands for the better.

“The additional funding announced today will allow us to continue to support these individuals – giving them access to the accommodation and support they need now while we continue with plans to deliver thousands of long-term homes in the coming months.

“Together, this takes the funding provided by Government for vulnerable rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless to over half a billion this year – an unprecedented commitment as we move towards ending rough sleeping for good.”

Dame Casey added: “We now have an extraordinary opportunity to help keep everyone in and turn their lives around if we get the next steps right. I am clear that there can now be no going back to the streets as people begin to move on from the emergency accommodation that has been put in place.”

Homelessness charities had been calling for the government to lay out their plans beyond the end of June prior to today’s announcement. The announcement has been welcomed though Shelter warned of “an avalanche of homelessness” without further protection for renters.

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “Money alone will not provide a guarantee of safe and secure accommodation during and after this public health crisis. We need emergency legal measures to ensure that every local council can provide housing support to everyone experiencing homelessness, regardless of their immigration status.

“Across the country, we know that support is patchy and inconsistent, with councils often uncertain who they should be helping, and in need of clarity and direction from government.”

Glass Door CEO Lucy Abraham added: “We are facing an historic opportunity to build on the progress made in the past three months, and we hope this commitment of funding will support thousands of people into longer-term housing.

“Many people we work with have not been eligible for support in the past, despite living and working in the UK legally. We hope this announcement will usher in a new commitment to support all, regardless of immigration status.

“I think the progress made in the last few months has shown us that sifting and sorting people based on complicated criteria wastes precious time and resources. Everyone is worthy of safe housing.

“And while this commitment will hopefully offer a lifeline for many facing eviction from hotels, we also need to remember the hundreds of people who are becoming newly homeless every week and all those who are still on the street.”