Housing

Jenrick: £212 million investment will support ‘thousands’ of rough sleepers

But a report released by MPs yesterday said the sheer number of those needing help had “exposed the scale” of the UK’s homelessness problem.

rough sleeping

The Government has announced an additional £212 million to invest in homes targeted at supporting rough sleepers

The funding is part of the next stage of a £750 million cross-government drive to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.  

Councils can bid for a share of the money that could see up to 6,000 homes become available to support people experiencing homelessness.

Its not clear if these will all be repurposed homes but the Government said St Helens and Torus Housing in Merseyside would deliver 28 quality homes for rough sleepers which had been renovated from long-term, unlettable flats. 

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Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we made it a priority to protect rough sleepers through our ongoing Everyone In campaign, which has supported more than 37,000 people in total.

“To build on this progress, we are making the biggest ever investment in longer-term accommodation for rough sleepers so they can have a secure, safe and comfortable home and rebuild their lives.

“Councils have played an outstanding role in protecting rough sleepers throughout the pandemic and today’s funding is a further opportunity to work together to achieve our mission of ending rough sleeping once and for all.”

The latest official figures show rough sleeping declined by a third due to the Everyone In initiative, which was introduced to get people off the streets during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and supported 37,000 people in total. 

But a report released by MPs yesterday said the sheer number of those helped by the Government during the Covid crisis had “exposed the scale” of the UK’s homelessness problem. 

The new support announced today will mean homes are available in every region of England. 

Jenrick said the Government would make sure everybody who is sleeping rough or at risk of doing so has the opportunity to be rehoused in secure accommodation. 

Through the new scheme, specialist staff will be on hand to offer mental health assistance and substance misuse treatment. 

Talking to Sky News about the new money, Big Issue founder John Bird said the Government’s Everyone In scheme was a “magnificent achievement” and showed that the country could do “incredible things if we put our minds to it”.

But he said the reason ministers were spending so much was because the UK had “never faced up” to its rough sleeping problem and focused more on the symptoms of the problem than the causes.

“[Jenrick] has given us a couple of hundred million a few months ago and now he is giving us another couple of hundred million,” he said.

“Isn’t it ridiculous the amount of money we spend on rough sleepers because we never face up to the fact that these people are a public health problem [and] a public health need? It’s a violation of human rights to actually be on the streets. All we doing in a sense is responding to the effects and never dealing with the cause.”

Housing and homelessness charities welcomed the new support. 

Fiona Colley, director of social change at Homeless Link, which represents homelessness charities, said it was “pleased” people would be able to move into safe housing.

“We particularly welcome the pledge of specialist staff who will support people to access the help they need, empowering them to take positive steps towards achieving their goals, and urge local authorities to partner with homelessness services when bidding for funding, to ensure the success of this scheme,” she said.

Steve Douglas CBE, chief executive of charity St Mungo’s, said: “This is welcome news, and what we hope will be the next step in the development of a long term strategy to end rough sleeping for good.

“We saw unprecedented collaboration between national, regional and local government, health agencies, homelessness organisations and housing associations in the response to the pandemic.

“That response undoubtedly saved lives. We must now ensure that this recognition that long term planning and funding for the homes and the health support that is necessary, is a cross-Government commitment.

Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, said the “welcome” funding could help vulnerable young people move into truly affordable longer-term accommodation. 

“The key to ensuring this money works for everyone who needs it is for the Government and councils to make sure that a meaningful proportion of new housing is set aside just for younger people who have experienced homelessness,” Noblet said.

“With under-25s being particularly hard hit by the pandemic, it’s vital that the awarding of these new funds fits with the rise we have seen in youth homelessness over the past 12 months.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “Ending rough sleeping for good demands more than a bed for the night, so we welcome the plans laid out today.

“Everyone In undoubtedly saved lives, but it also exposed the shocking scale of rough sleeping in this country.

“The planned 6,000 homes is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough to end rough sleeping and homelessness.

“The government must level up its rough sleeping agenda with more homes and more support. Everyone In has shown that ending homelessness can be more than a pipe dream. Now we need the resource to make it a reality.”

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