The Government has promised £203 million to help get rough sleepers off the streets – but a charity has warned the funds will ‘only scratch the surface’.
The number of homeless people has decreased annually for the last three years – but there were still 2,688 people spending nights under bridges or on pavements on any single night last autumn.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said fresh Government funds would create 14,500 new beds and employ 2,700 support staff. The amount is significantly more than the £112 million ministers provided last year.
Councils will be able to give the money to shelters or mental health and addiction services through charities and local groups.
Mr Jenrick said: ‘At the beginning of the pandemic we took swift and decisive action to bring rough sleepers in from the streets and settled them into longer-term accommodation in record numbers.
‘That work continues, the results are clear and are a huge credit to all involved.’
However, Crisis has warned the £203 million still ‘falls short’ of what is needed.
Chief executive Jon Sparkes said: ‘For people with multiple support needs who require specialist programmes, like housing first, to help them out of homelessness for good, this announcement falls short.
‘Without such sustained support, those helped off the streets today risk returning to them tomorrow.’
Mr Sparkes believes the only way to stop homelessness is to work on long-term solutions that help people find permanent homes.
Crisis is pushing the Government to develop a strategy to end rough sleeping that is implemented by all departments.
The charity says: ‘Many people who experience rough sleeping struggle to access the support services they need.
‘For example, if someone has both a mental health and drug or alcohol problem, they can often be refused help by both mental health and substance abuse services until they have addressed either issue.
‘Additionally, many mental health services will not carry out assessments on the street so it is often difficult for people who are sleeping rough to get access to the help they need either through mental health outreach teams or referrals to mental health services.’
A statement added: ‘Prolonged periods of rough sleeping have a significant impact on someone’s mental and physical health.
‘The longer someone experiences rough sleeping for, the more likely it is they will develop additional mental and physical health needs, substance misuse issues and have contact with the criminal justice system.’
The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been running a Rough Sleeping Initiative for four years in various areas of the country.
Places that took part in the initiative have seen rough sleeping decrease by 32% compared with places that did not.
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