Branch Secretary : suz.muna.unite@gmail.com
  

Rough sleeping: with resources real change is possible

Funding quietly pulled

 

On the 27th March, the Government told Councils across the UK to bring people sleeping on the streets to Hotels. According to the Government this has led to 90% of rough sleepers receiving an offer of accommodation. However, Streets Kitchen a community organisation providing hot meals for the homeless confirmed there had been no noticeable drop in numbers. This tallies with other reports commenting on the numbers of rough sleepers, and the increasing number of people previously in zero hours jobs in the hospitality industry being thrust into homelessness.

 

Despite the questionable claims to have solved homelessness, it did show that with resources and will, real change is possible. Now instead of increasing support to ensure all rough sleepers can access emergency accommodation, the funding has been quietly pulled. Local authorities are now being told they can fund placements from their block corona virus grant, however with many already in deficit and a predicted shortfall of £5 billion this seems unlikely to happen.

 

Andrea Gilbert

 

When questioned on the funding gap by Inside Housing on 21/05 John Gray the Deputy Mayor of Newham said “Be absolutely clear about this, if the funding [currently in place for housing rough sleepers] is removed or stopped, then we can’t continue to house people in expensive hotels and we haven’t got the accommodation or the money to give all the 177 rough sleepers that we’ve housed in Newham… full aftercare packages.” He felt Government had changed from saying “everyone in, we’ll pay for it, don’t worry”, to “councils make local decisions, they will be responsible for funding them”.

 

Members report hotel provision ‘likely to close’

 

Without proper resources it will not be possible to continue to support this vulnerable group, many of the valuable gains will be lost and people will simply return to the streets. The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has today reported on the urgent need for a £100 million support fund or ‘risk losing golden opportunity to end rough sleeping’.

 

In London Boroughs many UNITE Housing members report being informed hotel provision would likely ‘close within six weeks’. They are being told local authorities have no place to house rough sleepers and to push them into insecure private rented housing, whilst there was still no plan on how to support those with no recourse to public funds.

 

We support the demand by St Mungo’s for more funding and support for survivors of domestic abuse and those with complex needs and that all who have been housed should be given an offer of permanent accommodation not thrown back out onto the streets.

 

The government was quick today to extend the mortgage holiday by another 3 months to stop homeowners facing eviction, they now need to take this once in a generation opportunity to address homelessness.

 

Andrea Gilbert

 

May 22 2020

 

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