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Rough Sleeping

Volume 677: debated on Wednesday 24 June 2020

Today I am announcing a further £105 million for local authorities to enable them to support and accommodate rough sleepers.

At the outset of the covid-19 pandemic, the Government took quick action to accommodate rough sleepers and those in communal shelters, giving them the chance to self-isolate. This action was supported by councils, charities, faith groups, public sector partners and businesses. I want to put on record my thanks to everyone who has worked tirelessly to deliver this—this action has undoubtedly saved countless lives. These efforts and the action taken to support people at risk of becoming homeless during the pandemic has resulted in 15,000 vulnerable people being housed in emergency accommodation, including hotels.

Now is the time to help local authorities and the vulnerable people housed during the pandemic with what comes next. Local authorities, working with my Department, have already been assessing the needs of each individual currently in emergency accommodation. For the first time ever, we know who these vulnerable people are and where they are—allowing us to take a more personal and sophisticated look at each of their needs. The additional funding, which is available in this financial year, will allow local authorities to provide appropriate accommodation and support for the next steps, as we help these individuals to put their lives on a more stable footing. It will fund a wide range of measures, including: short-term accommodation before moves into safe, long-term homes can be arranged; moves into the private rental sector; and assistance to secure training and employment. This sustained support is vital to ensure progress is maintained as people move out of emergency accommodation.

This investment comes on top of significant funding we have already provided this year, including plans I announced last month alongside Dame Louise Casey to provide 6,000 supported homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during the pandemic. These homes will be held as a national asset with the specific purpose of providing move-on accommodation to rough sleepers and former rough sleepers.

The Government also understand the need to support people with complex and underlying issues which may be behind their rough sleeping. That is why I am also pleased to announce that a further £16 million in funding will be made available this financial year—bringing the total to £23 million—to tackle the substance dependence treatment needs of rough sleepers. This will help strengthen people’s engagement with substance dependence services while in emergency accommodation as they move into safer, long-term accommodation. It will also help people into treatment services and support them as they recover, to prevent a return to the streets.

Our manifesto set out our bold ambition to end rough sleeping within this Parliament and the measures I have announced today are a significant step towards that.