16:43 PM, 22nd December 2021, About A year ago 5
Tens of thousands of people will be protected from homelessness as a result of a £316 million funding boost, announced by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
The government’s Homelessness Prevention Grant will support households in England who are homeless or at risk of losing their home. Councils will use the funding to help them find a new home, access support for unexpected evictions and secure temporary accommodation where needed.
The funding includes an additional £5.8 million to support people forced into homelessness by domestic abuse. This follows the landmark Domestic Abuse Act, which ensures councils give people who find themselves in this situation a “priority need” for assistance.
Funding will be allocated to all councils responsible for housing in England based on local homelessness need in individual areas.
Since the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force in 2018, over 400,000 households have been successfully prevented from losing their homes or supported into settled accommodation, with rough sleeping levels falling 37% between 2019 and 2020.
Minister for Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes MP, said: “I have seen first-hand the devastation of those who come face to face with homelessness, and my heart goes out to anyone in this situation.
“The support we are announcing today is going directly to communities that need it most.
“It will help thousands of people across England, with councils able to prevent homelessness before it occurs and put a roof over the heads of those who have lost their homes”
Cllr James Jamieson, Local Government Association Chairman, said: “It is really important that we focus on avoiding the tragedy of people becoming homeless in the first place.
“This vital funding will help councils support households to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and find alternative safe, secure housing for those that need it.
“We are also pleased government is providing additional funding so councils can further support those made homeless as a result of suffering domestic abuse.”
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “To end homelessness we need to prevent people being forced from their homes in the first place, so this funding for vital local authority services is very welcome.
“With the appalling rise in domestic abuse during lockdowns and the pandemic forcing many more into homelessness, it is especially important that councils in England will have more money to provide accommodation for survivors.”
Lord Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, said: “I am delighted to see the government investing in homelessness prevention and support for people at risk of losing their homes or being evicted.
“The worrying number of people in rent arrears and at risk of eviction because of the pandemic has kept me up at night for months. Hearing that the government are taking action to stop mass homelessness from becoming a reality is a great relief.
“This will save an avalanche of people from the damaging experience of homelessness – as well as saving the Treasury millions on all the associated costs. This is exactly the kind of step in the right direction that we need, shifting the focus to prevention and long-term thinking rather than waiting for the crisis happens.”
The Homelessness Prevention Grant, available for 2022/23, is on top of the recently-announced £66 million to provide rough sleepers with safe and warm accommodation and drug and alcohol treatment services this winter, and £65 million support package for vulnerable renters struggling due to the impact of the pandemic. Overall, the government is investing £2 billion over the next three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.
Government has also announced a £28 million funding boost to help rough sleepers get their COVID-19 vaccines and move into safe accommodation. The Protect and Vaccinate scheme will help to increase vaccine uptake among people who are homeless and sleeping rough, by supporting outreach work in shelters to educate people about the dangers of the virus, giving money to councils to provide safe and secure accommodation while their level of vaccination is increased and delivering mobile vaccinations.
Recent funding has enabled local councils across the country to deliver practical, on the ground support for homeless people.
Calderdale Council, in West Yorkshire for example, has used government funding to provide 25 units of self-contained flats and long term accommodation to help prevent homelessness and drive down the number of rough sleepers in the local area. These units offer a range of on-site support for residents including support on how best to ‘Move on’ and an NHS run Wound Clinic to treat emergency injuries and provide access to sexual health, drug and alcohol services.