Plan to build 6,000 new homes to 'end rough sleeping'

By Laura Sharman | 26 May 2020

The Government has pledged to provide long-term homes for those people taken off the streets during the pandemic.

It has announced a £433m fund to provide 6,000 new housing units for vulnerable rough sleepers, with 3,300 delivered in the next 12 months.

This includes bringing forward the £381m previously announced at the Budget, with an extra £52m of new funding.

And Number 10’s homelessness adviser, Dame Louise Casey, has issued a plea to businesses, faith groups and local communities to join the efforts to rehouse rough sleepers.

Dame Louise, who led the efforts to take people off the streets when the coronavirus outbreak began, has harnessed the support of Business in the Community,  the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Prince’s Trust, and a raft of charities including Comic Relief.

Dame Louise said it had been a remarkable achievement to bring 15,000 homeless people off the street but added: ‘This terrible crisis has also given us an extraordinary opportunity to build on the success of bringing ‘everyone in’ and to try to make sure they don’t go back to the streets.

‘While Government, councils and frontline charities are all doing what they can, it’s clear that we will need the whole of society to help too, whether that is youth hostels offering rooms, businesses providing employment opportunities, or faith and community groups reaching out the hand of friendship.

‘We have seen the best of the British public and civil society already in response to this crisis and we need to keep that spirit going as we continue to help the most vulnerable former rough sleepers stay safe inside.’

After announcing the extra cash for councils at the weekend, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: 'This Government wants to end rough sleeping for good, and we now have a real opportunity to deliver on this moral mission. I’m backing this effort with £433m to fast-track the longer-term and safe accommodation needed to ensure as few rough sleepers as possible return to the streets.

'This is an unprecedented commitment – the most ambitious of its kind and the single biggest injection of specialist accommodation since the rough sleepers initiative began.'

The announcement has been welcomed by the Local Government Association (LGA) who also called for more clarity on what other practical support would be available to councils.

Cllr David Renard, housing spokesman for the LGA, said: 'Following the initial surge in demand for accommodation, councils are also now experiencing an urgent need for more accommodation as people, including young people, continue to face homelessness and rough sleeping.

'While the funding for councils to support rough sleepers is positive, we still need clarity from government on what additional practical support will be available to councils to help them move people out of hotels and temporary accommodation and into housing.

'Allowing councils to be able to keep 100% of receipts from Right to Buy sales and extending the deadline to spend the money to at least five years, will allow councils to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need.'

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