Chancellor to announce
£150 million funding boost to homelessness spending

Rishi Sunak is set to outline the Government’s aim to tackle homelessness in the UK with a multimillion-pound funding boost during Wednesday’s spending review.

The Treasury is poised to confirm an additional £151 million funding injection on Wednesday to help tackle homelessness across the four nations.

The additional funding comes on top of the £103 million already promised for next year from the Chancellor’s budget in March.

The money, a 60% increase on plans from the previous Conservative government, will go towards both prevention of – and reduction in – registered homelessness across the UK from April.

The funds will aim to boost the Rough Sleeping Initiative programme launched in 2018, provide additional resources to help local authorities prevent rough sleeping, and to aid prison leavers who tend to be at a higher risk of homelessness. It comes alongside the new government guidance issued last month that aimed to aid councils to help care leavers live independently and prevent them becoming homeless.

The announcement is set to be welcomed by many amid increasing concerns over rough sleepers over a usually challenging winter period intensifies due to coronavirus-related issues. Campaigners and charities are warning that rough sleepers are currently being forced to choose between remaining on the streets or potentially catching Covid-19 in shared accommodations. Calls have been made to increase the availability to self-contained accommodation solutions for rough sleeps over the coming months.

Alongside the concerns around current rough sleepers, there are worries that the numbers of people on the cusp of falling into homelessness will continue to rise, as economic fallout of the pandemic continues to claim jobs and livelihoods, with levels of unemployment and financial hardship continuing to rise.

Homelessness charities had previously warned that there could be sharp increases in the number of homeless people without urgent additional funding for councils to help those already on the streets, as well as further support for people already facing financial hardship.

Latest government figures showed that even with the recent eviction ban in place during the first lockdown, many people were still forced into homelessness. The figures show that between April and June 2020, an additional 63,570 households were found to be homeless or at risk of homelessness by their local councils.

The figures also revealed that the three most common triggers of homelessness during the initial lockdown period were households no longer being able to stay with families and friends (33%), the loss of a private tenancy (11%) and domestic abuse (11%).

Ahead of the spending review on Wednesday, Mr Sunak said “The pandemic has had devastating impacts on the poorest in our society, and we will do everything we can to support those who have been hardest hit.

“This additional support will be key to supporting rough sleepers on the first step of their journey off the streets and into homes.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, urged the Government to go further: “If we don’t want the legacy of this pandemic to be one of lasting homelessness, then we need a Covid rescue plan for housing and we need it now.

“By investing £12 billion over the next two years, the government could build an extra 144,000 lower-cost homes, including 50,000 critically important social homes. These permanent homes could provide a way out of the misery of homelessness and temporary accommodation for thousands.”

Read more about the new government guidance around supporting care leavers to avoid homelessness and rough sleeping at www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/New-guidance-for-councils-to-ensure-care-leavers-avoid-homelessness

You can find homelessness support and information for social work professionals at:
www.england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources (Shelter)

www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/briefings-and-responses-search/ (Crisis)

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