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Mon, 19 October 2020

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Ministers pledge extra £105m to keep homeless people off the streets during pandemic

Ministers pledge extra £105m to keep homeless people off the streets during pandemic

The Government is pledging funding to keep the homeless off the streets during the pandemic (PA)

3 min read

The Government is committing £105million to keep homeless people in hotels during the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes after charities warned earlier this month thousands of rough sleepers who have been temporarily housed would be forced back on to the streets.

At the start of the crisis the Government launched the 'Everyone In' programme to provide emergency accommodation for every homeless person in the country.

They allocated £3.2million to help homeless people self-isolate, with hotel rooms and guesthouses, empty due to coronavirus, used by councils as shelters for around 15,000 people.

Up to 7,000 of those had been sleeping rough.

But with contracts due to end at the start of July, coupled with the announcement by Boris Johnson that places will be allowed to open back up to guests from next month, there were fears they would be left without a roof over their heads through the summer.

In response the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has now announced a package which includes £85million of new funding to continue to provide them with accommodation.

Many of those staying in hotels will be moved to vacant university halls of residence, while the cash will also go towards putting down deposits for more permanent accommodation. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "In recent months, I have seen a huge effort across the country to keep almost 15,000 vulnerable people off the streets. 

“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."

The chair of the Covid-19 rough sleeping task force, Dame Louise Casey, added: "We now have an extraordinary opportunity to help keep them in and turn their lives around if we get the next steps right.

"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."

But Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said while the funding marked “a real step forward towards tackling homelessness”, it alone "will not provide a guarantee of safe and secure accommodation during and after this public health crisis”.

He added: "We need emergency legal measures to ensure that every local council can provide housing support to everyone experiencing homelessness, regardless of their immigration status.

"Across the country, we know that support is patchy and inconsistent, with councils often uncertain who they should be helping, and in need of clarity and direction from Government.

"In addition to this very welcome extra funding we need to see additional legislation that gives everyone at risk somewhere safe to stay."

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