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Rough Sleepers: Covid-19

Volume 681: debated on Monday 5 October 2020

Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, nearly 15,000 vulnerable people have been housed in emergency accommodation thanks to the hard work of local councils and charities, saving hundreds of lives. We are now moving on to the next steps through our Next Steps Accommodation programme. We have recently announced over £90 million for local authorities in England to prevent those we have accommodated from returning to the streets.

May I warmly welcome my hon. Friend to her new role on the Front Bench? This Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping is clear to see in the extensive and regular funding given to councils over the past year. I commend David Newbery, senior homelessness prevention officer at Guildford Borough Council, who successfully found appropriate accommodation for a victim of domestic violence I had spoken to on a Saturday morning by that very evening—there was the additional complication of a positive covid status—so that she did not have to spend another night unwell and fearful. Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the commitment of those on the ground in Guildford, who are working tirelessly in partnership with central Government to end rough sleeping?

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting the tremendous work of those in her constituency. I join with her in paying tribute to those, not only in her constituency but across the country, who worked so hard with the Government to end rough sleeping and on the delivery of the significant programme of accommodating nearly 15,000 people during covid-19. We are committed to protecting victims of domestic abuse, investing over £80 million since 2014. Today, a new £6 million fund will help tier 1 councils to prepare for the implementation of the new legal duty in the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The coronavirus pandemic and the Government’s actions during it have shown that homelessness is a choice—not of the homeless themselves, but of the Government. Will this Tory Government choose to permit the existence of homelessness, or will they extend their actions during the pandemic to eradicate the problem once and for all?

The hon. Gentleman knows that this Government are committed to working hard to end rough sleeping by the end of the Parliament. That is clear in the investment the Government have made, particularly during the pandemic and, as I have just outlined in my previous response, with the Next Steps Accommodation Programme. We are committed to making sure that during the pandemic all individuals who were accommodated are supported, so they can move forward and have great lives, and we keep many individuals off the streets.