A new £30m fund to help local authorities deal with rough sleeping has been announced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
One advisory board member told LGC the new resource is aimed at bringing homelessness statistics down “quickly” and will be used in tandem with a new team of experts.
A spokesperson for the ministry said a list of the team’s experts could not yet be provided, but said it “involves people from across government departments, who are experts in their field, and will involve leading charities as well”.
Jeremy Swain, CEO of homelessness charity Thamesreach and member of the government’s homelessness advisory board, told LGC: “This new money is actually pretty impressive and there will be more money down the line. The ministry has also taken on a number of [rough sleeping and antisocial behaviour] experts from a number of London boroughs.”
The ministry also announced plans for an additional £100,000 funding to “support frontline rough sleeping workers across the country” with training.
MHCLG statistics for autumn 2017 show a national 15% increase in homelessness compared to the previous year, while the homeless population of London increased 18% year on year.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid said: “This winter has tragically claimed the lives of a number of people sleeping on the streets. This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain. No one should ever have to sleep rough and this government is determined to break the homelessness cycle once and for all.”
Martin Tett (Con), housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “This additional funding will help some councils - with their partners - to provide extra support to reduce rough sleeping. We are working with the government on a longer-term approach to eradicating rough sleeping. Beyond this initial investment, we look forward to the launch this summer of the government’s strategy and investment plans to end rough sleeping and to tackle homelessness.
“Councils are on the front line of the battle against homelessness, currently housing more than 120,000 homeless children and they are doing everything they can to prevent homelessness in the first place by working to support people in securing accommodation, helping with their health and wellbeing, and developing the skills to find work.”
Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, welcomed the attempt to bring an end to “the national disgrace that is rough sleeping” but added: “The only way that we will tackle rough sleeping in the long-term is to have a strategy which tackles the causes of homelessness.
“We still desperately need government to look at the wider context for homelessness, including the lack of affordable housing, punitive welfare measures and insecurity in the private sector. Only with a strategy which takes all of these things into account will we be able to make real progress by preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place.”