Homelessness minister insists Government will meet pledge to end rough sleeping

The Government insisted it remains “determined” to fulfil its promise to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament, as it announced details of millions of pounds in funding to help people off the streets this winter.

The previously-announced cash will go to more than 100 local authorities across England to provide more bed spaces for people sleeping rough as temperatures drop.

Government figures published in November estimated that 8,442 people were sleeping rough in England over the month of September 2023, a rise of 17% since June that year and up 27% since the same period in 2022.

An expert group has predicted the Government will not meet its target to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament, which was a 2019 manifesto commitment.

The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, which published a report last September, said the target will be missed amid “chronic and unresolved” issues in the housing system, with the country facing an affordability crisis that is pushing more people on to the streets, and as pressure on public services results in a lack of early support to help prevention.

The Government said it has invested more than £547 million in its Rough Sleeping Initiative, which is part of a wider package of support backed by some £2 billion of government funding over three years, including helping people to find work, manage their finances, and access mental and physical health services.

The latest allocation of funds will see London boroughs including Hammersmith, Lambeth and Greenwich collectively receive more than £3 million, with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) adding that all local authorities in the capital will benefit.

Other councils getting funding are Nottingham City Council, which has received more than £400,000, Bristol City Council, which got some £300,000, and Hastings and Eastbourne Borough Councils which were given almost £250,000.

Minister for Rough Sleeping Felicity Buchan (pictured) said: “As the cold weather continues this winter, our mission to help people off the streets is even more urgent.

“We are determined to deliver our manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping, and today’s announcement demonstrates our continuing commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in our society with access to a safe and warm home, backed by over £2 billion of government funding over three years.”

The DLUHC has said its vision for ending rough sleeping is that “it is prevented wherever possible, and where it does occur it is rare, brief, and non-recurring”.

Earlier this month, the department helped fund extensions for festive hotel stays for rough sleepers further into the new year in an attempt to give them “crucial extra time” to make plans to end their homelessness.

The work by homelessness charity Crisis, alongside St Mungo’s, was funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the DLUHC, and saw 148 people supported with a hotel room, a dedicated support worker and access to housing and benefit advice until January 19.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2024, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) UK Parliament / PA.