New funding from the Treasury will provide ‘interim support’ for 15,000 vulnerable people placed in temporary accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has announced. The £105m package will be used to help rough sleepers secure their own tenancies and provide short-term housing in the meantime, it says.
The £105m is made up of £85m of new funding and £20m from ‘refocusing’ existing homelessness and rough sleeping budgets. The money will provide help with deposits and secure ‘thousands of alternative rooms already available’ – such as student accommodation – and is part of the government’s commitment to ‘end rough sleeping for good’. Partnership working between government, local authorities, charities and the hospitality sector has seen thousands of people temporarily housed in hotels during the outbreak (DDN, May, page 5).
A further £16m is being made available to help people in emergency accommodation access substance misuse support – money already announced but brought forward because of the pandemic.
‘In recent months, I have seen a huge effort across the country to keep almost 15,000 vulnerable people off the streets,’ said housing secretary Robert Jenrick. ‘This has been vital to ensure their safety during the peak of the pandemic and has changed the lives of thousands for the better. The additional funding announced today will allow us to continue to support these individuals – giving them access to the accommodation and support they need now while we continue with plans to deliver thousands of long-term homes in the coming months. Together, this takes the funding provided by government for vulnerable rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless to over half a billion this year – an unprecedented commitment as we move towards ending rough sleeping for good.’
‘I am clear that there can now be no going back to the streets as people begin to move on from the emergency accommodation that has been put in place,’ added chair of the COVID-19 rough sleeping taskforce, Dame Louise Casey. ‘The government is committed to ending rough sleeping by the the end of this parliament, and has taken unprecedented steps to protect thousands of vulnerable rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless.’
‘This a great news but support in England is patchy with councils often uncertain who they should be helping,’ stated homelessness charity Crisis. ‘We need emergency legislation to ensure that every local council can provide housing support to everyone experiencing homelessness.’