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Help for Rough Sleepers

Volume 710: debated on Monday 7 March 2022

We have committed more than £800 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in this year alone. That includes the investment of £202 million through the rough sleeping initiative fund, which provides 14,500 bed spaces and approximately 2,700 staff throughout the country. We are also helping people to find longer-term accommodation, including through the £433 million rough sleeping accommodation programme, which we expect to provide 6,000 new homes before the end of this Parliament. So far, we seem to be having some success, because the rough sleeping snapshot taken in November and announced a couple of weeks ago shows that numbers have fallen for eight years in a row.[Official Report, 14 March 2022, Vol. 710, c. 8MC.]

Trinity Winchester is not just a homeless shelter or day centre for rough sleepers but provides practical and emotional support to people experiencing the effects of homelessness and vulnerability. Its new Bradbury View accommodation provides homes for people who are rough sleeping repeatedly. The model is unique and I am glad that the Secretary of State has agreed to visit Winchester as soon as we can fix that up—

He is giving me a thumbs up—excellent.

Does the Minister agree that we have to borrow what works—Winchester is happy to show what works in this regard—and then scale it up throughout the country? At the end of the day, it is wraparound care that is going to break the cycle.

I guess that is the point: we need to legislate nationally and provide funding but trust local authorities, local areas and the excellent services of Trinity Winchester and others of that ilk to provide a bespoke service based on local demands. I am delighted that the Secretary of State is going to visit that scheme.

The Government’s rough sleeping snapshot recorded 2,440 people sleeping rough throughout the whole UK in the autumn. The Minister will know that the flawed method of data collection captures just a fraction of those without a home to sleep in. Those who are not represented in the figures include people who slept on public transport, who found a bed in a night shelter, who walked around at night and slept rough during the day, or who went under the local authority’s radar completely for any number of reasons. The reality of rough sleeping is far worse than the figures imply, so will the Minister tell me whether his Department is on track to deliver on its promise to truly end rough sleeping by 2024? If it is not, will it consider seizing the mansions of Russian oligarchs and putting those empty bedrooms to good use, once and for all?

To a degree, I understand part of the hon. Lady’s point. It is clearly difficult to capture that information, which is why we trust local councils and charities to do it. We have the figures validated by Homeless Link. The hon. Lady may have missed the fact that we are publishing more data so that it will be available monthly and working with local councils to make sure that that data is used appropriately to reduce the number of rough sleepers. I look forward to working with her to that end.