Government Pledges To End Rough Sleeping

The government is investing £200 million in efforts to end rough sleeping within four years. The Communities and Local Government department has today launched a 15-point strategy to meet its pledge, which is backed by the prime minister Gordon Brown.

The strategy includes measures to support single people at risk of homelessness, and funding and assistance to expand street rescue teams run by charities.

The document states that rough sleeper counts will be revised, with new approaches to help authorities track people sleeping rough, ‘by bringing in changes that will enable more in-depth reporting of the level and nature of need in different areas’.

It adds: ‘The counts will be as much focused on planning action for individuals as counting people.’

Extra support has also been promised for those coming off the streets and back into housing and employment.

Plans for more joined-up working with partners across health and social care are outlined in the strategy, while local authorities will be asked to improve interventions that prevent rough sleeping, including strengthening their housing options services.

Efforts to address rough sleeping among migrant populations will be rolled out through local immigration teams.

Speaking the launch, junior housing minister Iain Wright said: ‘The government target in 1998 was to reduce rough sleeping by two thirds and we achieved that four years early, but we want to go further.

‘This strategy states our ambition to end rough sleeping once and for all by 2012 building on the success we have already. This is the personal commitment of the prime minister.’

Jenny Edwards, chief executive of charity Homeless Link, said the government should strive to be the first in the world to achieve the aim.