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Homelessness and Rough Sleeping: Substance Misuse Support

Volume 686: debated on Monday 14 December 2020

At spring Budget 2020, the Chancellor announced funding for substance misuse treatment and recovery services for vulnerable people sleeping rough in England. Today, I am announcing the allocations of this year’s funding, totalling £23 million across 43 priority areas in England with the highest level of need, in addition to three pan-London projects. I am also announcing that this funding will be backed by a further £52 million next year, enabling these individuals to continue to access specialist support.

We recognise the importance of understanding the needs of people sleeping rough so that they can access the right support. Through the rough sleeping initiative and our Everyone In response, we have worked closely with local authorities to get a much better understanding of this at a local level. We have also undertaken national research over 2019-20, interviewing over 500 people with experience of rough sleeping across different areas in England to better understand their support needs and use of services. The full report will be published on shortly.

From this research, we know that many people sleeping rough have substance misuse support needs, and many face challenges in accessing the support they need. These vital funds will provide the specialist support needed, to enable these individuals to rebuild their lives off the streets and move towards longer-term accommodation. It will include evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment, such as detox and rehab services. It will also fund wraparound support which is key to engaging people in drug and alcohol treatment services and improving access, such as co-occurring mental health and substance dependence workers and peer mentors. Public Health England’s regional teams and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s expert rough sleeping advisers have worked closely with each of the 43 local areas to develop their plans for this year’s funding.

This funding is a critical part of the Government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping and to transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society. Backed by significant Government support, these plans are part of over £700 million being provided to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year. By September, our ongoing Everyone In scheme had successfully supported over 29,000 vulnerable people; with over 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move-on support.

The recently announced £15 million protect programme and our winter support package, which includes a £10 million cold weather fund and a £2 million winter transformation fund will build on the continuing successes of Everyone In and ensure that we protect the most vulnerable from the dangers of covid-19 over the coming months.

Meanwhile, our Next Steps accommodation programme has made available the financial resources needed to help prevent as many of those accommodated during the pandemic as possible from returning to the streets.

We are also putting in place an unprecedented level of support to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over 2021-22 with an additional £254 million resource funding. This takes total resource funding in 2021-22 to £676 million, a 60% increase compared to the 2019 spending review.

This funding will be supported by wider Governmental work to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable people in our society. For example, the Government recently announced £46 million for a new programme—Changing Futures—to provide better outcomes for adults experiencing multiple disadvantage, including people experiencing homelessness and substance misuse support needs. The prospectus for the Changing Futures programme, asking for local area expressions of interest, was made available on 10 December.

We are working at pace to prepare for the delivery of next year’s funding and will set out further detail about how areas in England can access this additional support under the substance misuse programme shortly.

I encourage all relevant partners and local authorities to consider how they can best use the available support to protect the most vulnerable.