Housing

The government is launching 11 new rough sleeping hubs across England

The new centres will offer specialist support in a bid to help rough sleepers to make a sustainable move off the streets

Homeless man on bench

The government has unveiled plans for 11 new ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ rough sleeping hubs across England.

The £4.2 million centres will be up and running by spring next year in a bid to provide shelter, rapid assessment and specialist support for rough sleepers with complex needs.

The initial centres will be opened in Brighton, Bristol, Cheshire West and Chester, Derby, Gloucestershire, Lincoln and Liverpool as well as Medway, Nottingham, Preston and covering seven borough councils in West London.

A further four hubs will open their doors in 2020.

The scheme is a part of the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative which Communities Secretary James Brokenshire insists will provide £64m to over 80 councils over the next two years to support rough sleepers.

Since launching in March, the strategy has created 1,750 new bed spaces and added 500 additional outreach workers, according to Brokenshire.

“No one should ever have to face a night on the streets, and as a government we are taking steps to ensure people are never faced with this as their only option,” he said.

“These are vulnerable people, who may be dealing with complex mental health problems or addictions and require specialist help to tackle these issues and turn their lives around.

“That’s why these vital new hubs will ensure those on the streets have access to professional help and guidance to start their recovery.”

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, has praised the plans. “Crucially, these services will be targeted at those at immediate risk of sleeping rough,” he said. “We will be encouraging a thorough evaluation of these pilots and want to see the learning used to roll out an approach to every area of the country that means no one who is homeless has to sleep rough before they receive the support they need.”

However, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey, has slammed the government’s approach and pointed to his party’s pledge to pay £100m a year to help protect rough sleepers from the winter cold.

The proposals would use a levy on second homes to pay into a rough sleepers cold weather fund that would be used to connect rough sleepers with support workers.

“It beggars belief that there is no guarantee of basic emergency accommodation for these people during cold weather,” he said. “Rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010 as a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers and the problem is getting worse.

“Labour’s plan will save lives and needs to be put in place now. Labour will give every rough sleeper a roof over their head, and tackle the root cause of rising homelessness with an end to the freeze on benefits, new rights for renters and a million low-cost homes.”

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