The statement made by Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in the House of Commons on 13 October 2020.
Today, I have announced additional support for rough sleepers this winter, giving local areas the tools they need to protect people from life-threatening cold weather and risks posed by covid-19.
During the pandemic, we have worked closely with local authorities and the sector to offer vulnerable people safe accommodation and support. That work is on- going and in September we had successfully supported over 29,000 people, with over 10,000 in emergency accommodation and nearly 19,000 provided with settled accommodation or move on support.
These efforts have been backed by significant Government support. We have given councils over £4.8 billion to help them to manage the impacts of covid-19, which we have been clear includes their work to support rough sleepers. Over the summer we worked with every local authority to develop a local, tailored plan to support rough sleepers over the coming months. This has been supported by £91.5 million of funding from the Next Steps Accommodation programme, allocated in September.
Today’s announcement further builds on this existing package of support over winter, setting out a plan that gives local areas a range of levers to support vulnerable rough sleepers as we approach winter.
First, there will be a new £10 million cold weather fund for local authorities to bring forward covid-secure accommodation this winter.
Secondly, we will be working intensively with the areas in greatest need, in recognition of the particular challenges they face.
Thirdly, recognising the vital role of the faith and communities sector, we are establishing a new £2 million transformation fund to ensure the voluntary sector can bring forward covid-secure accommodation.
Finally, we are publishing comprehensive guidance to the sector, produced with Public Health England, Homeless Link (the umbrella organisation for homelessness charities) and Housing Justice, to help them open shelters more safely, where not doing so would endanger lives. We know that some night shelters are planning to re-open imminently and our operating principles and additional funding package will help shelter providers and local authorities make any additional winter provision safer from the spread of covid-19.
Today’s announcement is on top of the £112 million rough sleeping initiative funding provided to local authorities in 2020-21, as well as the recently announced funding allocations to provide interim support and winter funding as part of the Next Steps Accommodation programme. We will also be bringing forward 3,300 longer-term units of accommodation this year. In total, the Government are spending over £700 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone. We remain committed to transforming the lives of some of the most vulnerable in society, and to ending rough sleeping for good.
In addition, the Government have injected over £9 billion into the welfare system, including helping people with housing costs by increasing local housing allowance rates to the 30th percentile—putting an average of £600 into people’s pockets this year. We have taken action to protect tenants and support them to stay in their homes. Most recently, we have increased notice periods to six months meaning that anyone served notice today can stay in their home until mid-March in all but the most egregious cases, such as those involving antisocial behaviour.
We will set out further detail about how local areas can access this winter funding and support imminently, and I encourage all relevant partners and local authorities to consider how they can best use this funding to save lives this winter.