Funding For Rough Sleepers ‘Will Only Scratch The Surface’

More rough sleepers in England will be helped off the streets and into housing this year as part of a £203m programme, the government has announced.

Some 2,688 people were estimated to be sleeping rough on any single night in England last autumn, reports the BBC. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the money will be given to councils to support shelters and specialist mental health or addiction services. But charity Crisis warned the funding “will only scratch the surface”.

The government said its Rough Sleeping Initiative had reduced rough sleeping by nearly a third compared to areas that have not taken part in the programme. Up to 14,500 beds and 2,700 support staff will be funded through the new investment, Mr Jenrick said. The government said the funding was an 81% increase from the £112m allocated for the initiative last year.

“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,” Mr Jenrick said. “That work continues, the results are clear and are a huge credit to all involved.”

Jon Sparkes, the chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said the work in the past year to get people off the streets has been “vital”, and he welcomed the additional funding. “But the number of people helped by this funding will only scratch the surface,” he added.

The announcement “falls short” for those with multiple support needs who require specialist help, like housing first, Mr Sparkes said, adding long-term solutions were needed. “Without such sustained support, those helped off the streets today risk returning to them tomorrow.”