Skip to main content

Rough Sleeping

Volume 683: debated on Thursday 5 November 2020

Today, in the light of the national restrictions, I have announced targeted, additional support for areas with higher numbers of rough sleepers, to enable local authorities to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the effects of covid-19.

This continues our ongoing work to support rough sleepers, to keep them safe during the pandemic and to provide a long-term sustainable end to rough sleeping.

This Government are committed to ending rough sleeping and we have already taken huge steps to working with local authorities and their partners to protect rough sleepers during the pandemic. The Government are spending over £700 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone.

I am today launching the Protect programme which builds on the ongoing success of Everyone In and ensures we are protecting the most vulnerable in our communities during the four-week period of restrictions and across the winter period.

This programme will see the Government working intensively with a selection of local areas with the highest levels of rough sleeping, backed by £15 million of funding.

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with local authorities and the sector to offer vulnerable people safe accommodation and support. That work is ongoing and by September we had successfully supported over 29,000 people, with over 10,000 still in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move on support.

These efforts have been backed by significant Government support:

Over £6.4 billion provided to councils to help them to manage the impacts of covid-19, which we have been clear includes their work to support rough sleepers. This is alongside wider additional funding for councils to support local test, trace and contain activities, and their local businesses.

Work with councils to develop tailored local plans to support rough sleepers over the coming months.

A £266 million next steps accommodation programme aims to ensure that as few people as possible return to the streets. This includes the £91.5 million allocated to 274 councils in September to fund their individual local plans for rough sleepers over the coming months; £150 million which is being used to bring forward 3,300 new homes for rough sleepers this year; and

£112 million provided to local areas through the rough sleeping initiative.

A £10 million cold weather fund for all local authorities to bring forward covid-secure accommodation this winter; a new £2 million transformation fund for the voluntary sector; and comprehensive guidance on reopening night shelters more safely, where not doing so would endanger lives.

In the light of the recently brought-in national restrictions, we will work with local authorities and their partners, to build on this work and make sure that they have updated plans in place to protect some of the most vulnerable in our society.

All councils in England will be asked to update their rough sleeping plans and consider interventions for anyone sleeping rough.

We recognise that areas with high numbers of rough sleepers will require an increased health focus alongside accommodation for those sleeping rough, prioritising those who are clinically vulnerable. This support will continue throughout winter. The Protect programme will provide £15 million, alongside targeted Government support, to ensure additional support for rough sleepers is available over this winter period in the areas that need it most.

We will set out further detail about how local areas can access this additional support under the Protect programme imminently and I encourage all relevant partners and local authorities to consider how they can best use the available support to protect the most vulnerable.