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Housing

Government’s new £300m fund will stop ‘avalanche of homelessness’

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird said the government’s £316m Homelessness Prevention Grant will help to stop mass homelessness.

A new £300million fund from the Westminster government will “save an avalanche of people from homelessness” according to Big Issue founder Lord John Bird.

Ministers announced the £316m Homelessness Prevention Grant on Tuesday to help people in England who are homeless or at risk of losing their home.

The money will be distributed to councils to help people find a new home or secure temporary accommodation as well as supporting people facing eviction.

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Last month The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign called for the government to pay off £360m in rent arrears racked up through the pandemic, warning failure to do so could lead to a mass homelessness crisis and costs of £2.6bn.

Since then, the government has announced a £65m Household Support Fund to help renters in arrears alongside the £316m focusing on prevention.

“I am delighted to see the government investing in homelessness prevention and support for people at risk of losing their homes or being evicted,” said Lord Bird.

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“The worrying number of people in rent arrears and at risk of eviction because of the pandemic has kept me up at night for months. Hearing that the government are taking action to stop mass homelessness from becoming a reality is a great relief. 

“This will save an avalanche of people from the damaging experience of homelessness – as well as saving the Treasury millions on all the associated costs. This is exactly the kind of step in the right direction that we need, shifting the focus to prevention and long-term thinking rather than waiting for the crisis happens.”

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The Homelessness Prevention Grant will be available for 2022/23 and includes an additional £5.8m to support people forced into homelessness by domestic abuse.

The funding announcement comes a day after the government also announced £28m to help rough sleepers get their Covid-19 vaccines and access safe accommodation as Omicron continues to spread around the UK.

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Rough sleeping minister Eddie Hughes said: “I have seen first-hand the devastation of those who come face to face with homelessness, and my heart goes out to anyone in this situation.  

“The support we are announcing today is going directly to communities that need it most. It will help thousands of people across England, with councils able to prevent homelessness before it occurs and put a roof over the heads of those who have lost their homes.” 

The focus on prevention has also been praised by youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.

Balbir Chatrik, director of policy at Centrepoint, said: “We welcome the funding announced today, especially as it’s focused on prevention – more and more young people are facing homelessness every year, so it’s absolutely crucial that we do as much as we can to stop this.”

As well as funding to tackle rent arrears, The Big Issue’s Stop Mass Homelessness campaign is calling for a suspension to no-fault evictions – which allow a landlord to evict a tenant for no reason. Ministers will lay out their reform plans to replace no fault evictions in 2022 in a white paper.

The campaign is urging the government to invest in jobs and training in sustainable industries to ensure people are not at risk of losing their home in the future.

For more information on the Stop Mass Homelessness campaign, head here.

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