The Government will give local authorities an extra £15 million to safely house rough sleepers during the pandemic, the Prime Minister declared on Thursday.
On the day England entered a second national lockdown, Boris Johnson announced the Protect Programme to provide targeted support to areas with particularly high numbers of homeless people.
It will run alongside the Everyone In scheme, launched in March to move rough sleepers into single-room accommodation where they can stay protected from Covid-19, and which Jenrick said has helped 29,000 people.
“The way we have protected rough sleepers from Covid-19 is widely considered to be the best in the world,” Jenrick claimed.
“At the start of the pandemic we launched Everyone In, which protected thousands of vulnerable people. That work hasn’t stopped and we’ve backed it with £700m.
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“As the new national measures come into force, I am launching the Protect Programme to ensure councils are offering everyone sleeping rough on our streets today somewhere safe to go – protecting people from the virus and moving forward with our goal of eliminating rough sleeping.”
Councils will be asked to prioritise people who are clinically vulnerable in a new effort set to continue until March 2021.
“Councils will continue to support rough sleepers,” said James Jamieson, Local Government Association chairman and Conservative councillor. “Extra funding to support getting more rough sleepers off the streets is most welcome.”
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, welcomed the funding but added: “Let’s be clear, this funding for 10 areas of the country isn’t nearly as extensive as what we saw in March, yet the threat from the virus remains the same.
“We also know the money will run out quickly and that council resources will be under pressure to ensure that they can prevent homelessness and support everyone who needs it into safe accommodation.
“We must not leave people exposed to the virus and the streets. With thousands of people having already been supported into more permanent accommodation, we must build on this progress and ensure that everyone helped through this scheme will have a permanent place to call home when this emergency is over.”
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