Friday, 28 April 2017

£20m fund for national rough sleeping scheme

The government has pledged £20 million to a scheme which tries to help as many rough sleepers off the street as possible.

Grant Shapps, the housing Minister, announced today (Wednesday) a £20 million Homelessness Transition Fund would be made available to the voluntary sector to help roll out ‘No Second Night Out’ across the whole country.

The scheme, currently running as a pilot in London, is a 24-hour helpline and website which the public, emergency services and homeless people themselves can use to report rough sleepers.

An outreach worker is then dispatched as soon as possible to help them get access to accommodation and any other support they need.

The fund will be administered by Homeless Link, the umbrella body of homelessness charities, over three years for the voluntary sector to set up their own schemes.

So far 135 people have been prevented from rough sleeping in the capital since it was launched earlier this year.

Mr Shapps said: ‘I am shocked and saddened that I still see people living on our streets. I am more shocked that some people still, in the 21st century, see the problem of homelessness as something that cannot be solved. It can.

‘None of us want to live in a society where people are forced to sleep in shop doorways, on park benches or on our pavements.’

Mr Shapps said that rather than the government setting out how the scheme will work, local authorities will be encouraged to work with voluntary groups and charities who understand their areas best.

The only stipulation will be that the authorities’ rough sleeping programmes meet four key principles:

  1. Members of the public should be able to play an active role by reporting and referring people sleeping rough.
  2. Rough sleepers should be helped to access a place of safety where their needs can be quickly assessed and they can receive advice on their options. 
  3. Rough sleepers should be able to access emergency accommodation and other services, such as healthcare, if needed.
  4. If anyone must come from another area or country and find themselves sleeping rough, to reconnect them back to their local community unless there is a good reason why they cannot return. 

Jenny Edwards CBE, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: ‘The Homeless Transition Fund cannot be a substitute for local authority money. However it will provide key front-line services with breathing space to secure their futures and to innovate -especially in communities that face an increase in rough sleeping.

‘In modern Britain, no one should end-up or be left out on the streets. Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring this does not happen - Government, charities and the public.

‘This cross government strategy and the funding brings us one step closer to achieving this ambition.’

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