Rough sleepers are set to be benefit via a new government initiative that will see them given a roof over their head and specific tailored support that will encourage them to rebuild their lives. The cross-government Rough Sleeping Strategy is backed by £2 billion and is building upon the existing framework from government action, which has already achieved a 43% drop in rough sleeping since 2019.
The £2 billion has been dedicated for the duration of this existing parliament, with funding allocations currently totalling £764 million. £500 million has been allocated to the Rough Sleeping initiative over the course of three years, which aims to provide 14,000 beds for rough sleepers and 3,000 staff to provide tailored support across England by the end of this year.
A further new £200 million Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme will also provide an extra 2,400 long-term supported homes for those with the most complex needs. This exciting news accompanies the 3,200 existing homes that have been delivered.
A major component of peoples being reduced to rough sleeping is often the devastating cycle of addiction that damages lives every day across the UK. To break these cycles, the government has planned to expand its existing Rough Sleeping Drug and Alcohol Treatment Grant programme to an additional 20 areas in England, totalling 83. This scheme aims to provide funding and treatment for those misusing addictive substances, hoping to tackle the issue at its core.
Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Greg Clark said:
“Ending rough sleeping in this parliament is an important manifesto commitment.
“We’ve made great strides towards that goal in the last few years, and today’s strategy backed by £2 billion of support will give some of the most vulnerable people in our society a roof over their heads and targeted support so they can rebuild their lives.
“The full weight of government is behind this very necessary pledge and this landmark strategy will give us the right tools to identify people at risk of rough sleeping earlier and provide the help they need.”
Minister for Rough Sleeping Eddie Hughes said:
“No one should have to sleep on our streets and our strategy will help make that a reality.
“We will pull every lever at our disposal so councils, working hand in hand with the voluntary, faith and community sectors, can intervene swiftly when someone is sleeping rough.
“When I worked at YMCA Birmingham, I saw first-hand how the right support can help people turn their life around. We’re making great progress and this strategy is hugely important step towards ending rough sleeping for good.”
Further aid to reduce rough sleeping will come from the extension of the Housing First Pilots in the West Midlands, Manchester and Liverpool, which gives homeless people with complex needs access to independent, long-term housing that provides a stable platform to address other identified issues.
Another aspect of this rough sleeping prevention initiative comes in the form of the second phase of the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders programme. This phase will be launched later this year and aims to aid councils provide rental deposits, landlord incentives and dedicated support staff. This builds on the existing framework from on the 2021/22 scheme, which helped 145 councils across England and Wales provide the much-needed support.
The cherry on top for the progressive scheme will be the repealing of the outdated Vagrancy Act, abolishing the criminalisation of people who simply have nowhere to live.
Throughout the duration of this initiative’s implementation, the government will publish quarterly data showing progress, creating transparency and accountability for those helming the project. This will encourage feedback and adaptation across the scheme, providing the opportunity to improve conduct wherever and whenever possible.