Welfare

22.12.16

Winners of new homelessness prevention funding announced

The successful bidders for new national funding to reduce homelessness have been announced.

In a visit to Thames Reach Employment Academy in Southwark yesterday, prime minister Theresa May and the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, revealed the distribution of the new funding, which totals £50m.

May said: “In the run up to Christmas, images of soup kitchens and hostels remind us of the vital lifeline provided by charities and local services to those facing a night on the streets.

“But today I have witnessed a different kind of support, one which seeks to stop people ending up on the street altogether by providing assistance to address their most immediate needs and crucially giving them the skills and opportunities which can help them build a more secure future for themselves.”

The £20m Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers fund, for new initiatives to tackle the problem, was divided between 28 councils or local authority partnerships, including Birmingham City Council, which will receive £1.7m.

Birmingham’s proposals, designed to help 9,000 people, include a new Partnership Board to deliver homelessness services across the city; new dedicated teams to support people leaving custody and hospital; and specialist advice through Web chat, Skype and phone calls to help people at risk of losing their home.

In addition, the £20m Rough Sleeping Grants, for services for those at imminent risk of sleeping rough, were awarded to 16 councils and partnerships within London and 31 outside.

For example, Brighton and Hove City Council will use its £352,344 grant to fund a Dual Diagnosis support worker for rough sleepers with substance misuse and mental health problems, and a navigator worker to help those new to the streets or experiencing hidden forms of homelessness.

The final stage of the government funding, £10m in locally commissioned Social Impact Bonds to help long-term rough sleepers with the most complex needs, was awarded to eight areas.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority was successful in its bids for the Trailblazers funding and Social Impact Bonds, although it did not receive a Rough Sleeping Grant.

The funding will allow areas to trial the Housing First model, which has achieved success in the USA. It is based on the principle that the most important priority for homeless people is to provide them with permanent accommodation before tackling their other problems.

Javid stated that the £50m funding is an enabler for ambitious programmes to prevent homelessness across the country, “so that by next year many more people will have been helped to get their lives back on track”.

Southwark Council received £393,000 of the Rough Sleeping Grants, some of which will go to the Thames Reach academy, and £1m of the Trailblazer funding.

The latest council count found 32 people on the street, compared to 10 in 2011.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing, said: “It is shocking to see that homelessness is increasing. While the Trailblazer and rough sleeping grant funding help to deal with the solution, the bigger picture is that more people are under threat of losing their homes and becoming homeless in many different ways. The impact of welfare reform, benefit caps and elements of the Housing and Planning Act is that more people, those not yet visible on the street, are in serious danger of losing their homes."

She added that she welcomed the recent abolition of the Pay to Stay scheme for social housing tenants, which would have left families "vulnerable to homelessness".

Figures recently released for Shelter’s 50 anniversary suggest that over a quarter of a million people are now homeless.

The Communities and Local Government Committee also took the unusual step of sponsoring the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a private members’ bill from committee member Bob Blackman, after publishing a report into the extent of the problem.

However, the LGA has warned that the Bill could just pass a heavier burden onto already struggling council services.

Separately, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced a £50m fund to help homeless people move on from refuges and hostels.

(Image c. Trowbridge Estate)

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