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Rough Sleeping: COVID-19 Response

Volume 676: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government have worked closely with local authorities, charities and health providers to offer accommodation to as many rough sleepers as possible in order to help them stay safe during the pandemic.

We have asked all local authorities to provide information on the number of individuals they have accommodated. The information provided is management information, not official statistics, and local authorities continue to hold the most recent information.

This information submitted shows that since the start of the pandemic, local authorities have accommodated 14,610 people. This includes people coming in directly from the streets, people previously housed in shared night shelters and people who have become vulnerable to rough sleeping during the pandemic.

This is a truly remarkable achievement and has been possible because of an incredible effort by the Government, local authorities and charities.

In order to be transparent, we have today published the management information received from local authorities which provides a breakdown of this figure both inside and outside of London.

This number should not be compared to the official autumn annual snapshot of rough sleeping numbers because the data sets are not comparable. A significant proportion of the 15,000 people accommodated were not rough sleepers but have been housed in order to prevent any risk of them sleeping rough during the pandemic. The work local authorities have undertaken during the pandemic has assisted many who were sleeping rough or living in accommodation where they share sleeping spaces, for example in hostels or night shelters, where they would not be able to fully self-isolate. Local authorities have also housed those at risk of rough sleeping, or who have presented to local authorities as at risk of sleeping rough throughout this pandemic.

The Government have supported this vital work with £3.2 million emergency funding as an initial first step, followed by funding totalling £3.2 billion to local authorities to allow them to meet local need during the pandemic, including protecting the most vulnerable and rough sleepers.

We have also announced a further £433 million to provide 6,000 long-term, safe homes to support thousands of rough sleepers currently housed in emergency accommodation move on to more sustainable accommodation.

The Government are now supporting local authorities on their next steps plans to ensure accommodation arrangements can continue to be managed safely to protect the most vulnerable, assessing individuals’ needs in order to ensure as few people as possible return to the streets. We have asked Dame Louise Casey to spearhead this work through a new covid-19 Rough Sleeping Taskforce.