Ministers launch £100m plan to end rough sleeping in England by 2027
A new £100m plan will seek to eradicate rough sleeping in England by 2027, ministers have announced.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire admitted efforts to tackle homelessness had “not been good enough” and said rising numbers of people sleeping on the streets was not consistent with the “type of country, the type of society that I profoundly believe we are”.
The new plans, due to be announced on Monday, will take a three-pronged approach to tackling homelessness, with a significant £30m fund being made available for new mental health and substance abuse treatments.
A further £10m will be spent on training “navigators”, who will help people in crisis to access services and accommodation in a bid to stop them ending up on the streets.
Mr Brokenshire said the plans would help tackle the “awful” numbers of people sleeping rough in England.
He said: “To see that number of people on the streets isn’t good enough. We need to make progress with the new strategy.”
Under the new scheme, ministers will also launch a review into the Vagrancy Act, under which 7,690 people have been prosecuted for rough sleeping in the last four years.
“We shouldn’t punish people for being homeless”, the Communities Secretary added.
“This strategy is about how we can support people, how we can direct, and yes, sometimes challenge, some of those who are living rough to get into those services that will help make a difference.”
But he stopped short of committing to resign if the plans were not successful, despite his junior minister Heather Wheeler making the pledge to step aside if the department failed to tackle the worsening crisis.
He said. “I certainly am determined that we will see the aims of the strategy met; that is a real personal commitment that I will give to this. It isn’t good enough that we have so many people who are out on our streets.”
Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “This strategy is an important step forward in the fight against the rough-sleeping emergency that has led to people dying on our streets. The scale of the crisis demands urgent action.”