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Government announce new rough sleeping strategy

Monday 13 August 2018

Thousands of rough sleepers will be offered rapid specialist assessments and support from today as part of a package of new measures announced by the Government to stamp out homelessness.

The strategy, launched by Housing and Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, confirms the Government’s ambition to halve rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2022 and end it altogether by 2027.

Homelessness has been on the rise for the past seven years, with around 4,750 people estimated to be sleeping rough on any given night in England in 2017, according to official Government statistics.

The £100 million plan will be developed across government in conjunction with a number of charities and experts, and will be based on a three-pronged approach. It will concentrate on:

  • preventing rough sleeping by providing timely support to those at risk;
  • intervening to help people already on the streets get swift, targeted support; and
  • helping people recover, find a new home quickly and rebuild their lives.

The key focus of the plans will be to prevent homelessness in the first instance, with those in crisis able to access individual support to help them off the streets and into long term accommodation, where they will continue to be supported as they tackle any issues that may hamper efforts to rebuild their lives.

The new plan recognises that a housing led approach – giving people their own front door – is vital to restoring dignity and a sense of security, hope and recovery, and £50 million of the money will be set aside for homes for people ready to move on from hostels or refuges. A further £30 million will be spent on mental health support.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Nobody should have to sleep rough, and that’s why we must do all we can to help the most vulnerable in our society get the support they need. But we recognise this is a complex issue – as well as ensuring people have somewhere to live, we have to deal with underlying problems and ultimately help people turn their lives around. The strategy launched today will help us act to prevent rough sleeping before it happens and make sure targeted support is reaching those that need it.”

Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire commented: “It is simply unacceptable that people have to sleep on the streets and I am determined to make it a thing of the past. Whether people are at risk of rough sleeping, already on the streets or in need of settled accommodation, we have a solid plan to help the most vulnerable in our society. And this is not just about putting a roof over their heads, but helping them find a place to call home. These vulnerable people need our support and, through our expert-backed strategy, I am confident they will get it.”

But whilst the move was welcomed by homelessness charities as a significant step towards ending rough sleeping, Labour has criticised the plans, stating that they do not go far enough.

The strategy was dismissed as “a feeble plan that lacks any urgency to tackle the crisis of rising rough sleeping” by Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey MP. He said: “The scale of the problem is clear today but the Government’s target means waiting almost a decade to deal with this crisis. The funding announced will barely register compared to the reckless Conservative cuts to affordable housing, social security benefits and homelessness services that have caused this crisis.”

And Labour MP, David Lammy tweeted: “After [eight] years of pernicious Conservative cuts and caps to benefits, an ever deepening housing crisis, and slashed subsidies, it's no wonder homelessness has increased by >134% since 2010. The PM's puny fund is like putting a penny in a charity bucket.”