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Rough Sleeping

Volume 699: debated on Monday 19 July 2021

With reference to the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024, whether he has plans to update the rough sleeping strategy to set out how that commitment will be met. (902850)

Our focus in the last year has rightly been on managing the response to the pandemic and supporting tens of thousands of the most vulnerable people across our society. During the pandemic, we took unprecedented action to protect people sleeping rough or at risk of doing so. This saved lives and achieved huge reductions in the number of people sleeping rough: a 37% decrease in the latest statistics. Our ambition to end rough sleeping within this Parliament still stands. We are taking into account the lessons learned from our ongoing pandemic response, including Everyone In and the Protect programme, to inform our long-term plans.

The Everyone In scheme has undoubtedly been a success and led to incredible stories of lives being turned around in a housing-first approach that has support from all sides of the House. However, several councils have reported that the Government have instructed them, through the terms of the rough sleeping initiative funding allocations, to end the use of emergency accommodation for those sleeping rough, so signalling the end of the Everyone In scheme. To make matters worse, the rough sleeping strategy is still in need of updating following the pandemic. Were local authorities instructed to end Everyone In? If so, have charitable and third-sector groups been made aware so that they can fill in the gaps? When can we expect to see the updated rough sleeping strategy and, indeed, the promised review of the Vagrancy Act 1824?

As is so often the case, the Lib Dems are more focused on two things: making plans—rather than taking action—and scaremongering. It is categorically not the case that either charities or local councils have been instructed as the hon. Member suggested. Indeed, funding through the rough sleeping initiative continues to fund people in emergency accommodation. More importantly, we should note that that is a temporary form of accommodation and it is incredibly important that we get people moved on to more permanent forms of accommodation. That should be the objective of all of us.