Buchan said the new funding is on top of the £500m already promised to fund the Rough Sleeping Initiative over three years. So far, that money has funded 14,000 beds for rough sleepers and 3,000 staff to provide tailored support across England.
This money will go to areas most in need of support to help get people off the street more quickly; provide more move-on accommodation; help people keep their tenancies; and provide tailored support.
Overall, the government said it is spending £2bn over years on tackling the issue through its rough sleeping strategy, including funding Housing First pilots, accommodation for ex-offenders and targeted drug and alcohol treatment.
Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter
But it remains to be seen, in the face of the cost of living crisis, whether this will be enough.
England’s official rough sleeping snapshot showed more than 3,000 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on a single night last autumn. That 26% annual increase was the first rise for four years and the biggest year-on-year surge since 2015.
More recently, the London-only Chain figures showed a 10% increase in a year driven by a 12% rise in the number of people newly sleeping rough.
Last week, Homeless Link found frontline homelessness services were struggling to keep up with the cost of living crisis.
The charity, which is the national membership body for frontline groups, found almost a quarter of homelessness accommodation providers in England had seen a decrease in funding since 2021. Meanwhile, a further 56% of services reported no change in funding, which amounts to a real-terms cut as inflation has risen.
The fall in funding has continued the trend of the last decade. A fifth of accommodation services had consistently reported a decrease in funding since 2012 with the number of services falling by a third from 1,362 to 911 and the number of bed spaces falling by a fifth to 33,093.
Homeless Link did acknowledge that the number of accommodation services grew by 2% in 2022, but this was driven by a 16% increase in London while every other English region recorded a drop or no change in numbers since 2021.
Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription
“Homelessness services have been hit hard by the cost of living crisis, so any support for the sector is welcome,” said Rick Henderson, Homeless Link chief executive.
“However, our research found almost a quarter of homelessness accommodation providers have seen a decrease in funding since 2021. Many have scaled back or even closed down as a result, with this funding nowhere near enough to plug the gap.”
While the government’s latest announcement focuses on relieving rough sleeping, Henderson said ministers should focus on preventing homelessness by investing in affordable social housing and raising local housing allowance to help people on low incomes.
Henderson said: “The government must act to turn off the tap of homelessness in the first place. We need a commitment to sufficient, sustainable funding of the services that offer a lifeline to people who do fall through the gaps and find themselves without a place to call home.”
Homelessness charity Crisis announced last month that offices in Rotherham and Coventry would be closed due to reduced income and rising costs.
The charity’s chief executive Matt Downie said the new government funding does not do enough to prevent homelessness and echoed calls for increased housing benefit and more affordable homes.
“While it’s positive to see the Westminster government providing funding to support people sleeping rough, it is the bare minimum of what’s required,” said Downie. “All forms of homelessness are increasing. A combination of rising living costs, soaring rents and huge demand for properties is leaving households across Britain unable to find or keep an affordable home.
“The emphasis must be on tackling rather than ‘managing’ homelessness. Truly affordable homes, rather than beds, are desperately needed – without this, people who are helped off the streets run the risk of being forced to return as there is simply nowhere affordable for them to live long-term.”
Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.