The UK Government has elaborated on its funding and plans to help the homeless off the streets. In a March announcement it said that £26 million of a previously agreed £100 million fund to help the homeless, has been allocated to create specialist, tailored support to help with mental health and get rough sleepers into accommodation.
Specifically, councils in the 83 areas with the biggest rough sleeping problems, have been invited to bid to fund new, local schemes, supported by experienced teams to provide new opportunities for those without a home or the help they need to improve their situation.
How councils are expected to utilise the fund
According to the Government, four areas have been identified for the investment to fund, in support of the UK’s homeless. They are:
- To create new teams of specialist support workers to become a single point of contact for rough sleepers and help them into recovery by assisting them in contacting mental health support, substance misuse counselling and housing advice services.
- To establish new, lettings agencies dedicated to helping rough sleepers, who can provide advice and affordable and stable, accommodation and homes.
- To set up ‘Somewhere Safe to Stay’ hubs for rough sleepers, and provide access to professional assistance to begin their recovery, which will include shelter and the right mental health support.
- The introduction of Supported Lettings schemes and help vulnerable homeless people to agree and sustain tenancies on homes that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.
“The funding announced today will ensure those sleeping on the streets across the country have access to the professional help and guidance they need to start their recovery – taking us one step closer to our ambition to end rough sleeping for good,” Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, said in March.
That announcement also included the detail that part of the £100 million fund had already been used to create 1,7000 additional beds for rough sleepers and 500 specialist support staff.
Successful bids to be announced later in 2019
Bidding on the funding was open for four weeks and has now closed. The Government will announce the successful bids later on in the year, with hopes of quickly increasing existing support to the homeless.
While creating specialist lettings agencies and support staff to assist rough sleepers off the streets and into accommodation, with support to maintain that accommodation, it is, as yet, unclear as to where they will be housed.
Research shows that the number of unoccupied homes in England rose to 216,000 in the 12 months to October 2018, the highest level since 2012. However, while taxes on unoccupied homes are in place, utilising them to provide housing, where possible and suitable, could offer additional, much needed accommodation to support the Government’s push to provide support and housing for the UK’s rough sleepers.
For now, however, it appears that the current plans will have to suffice with regards to providing the mental health and housing support that is so desperately needed up and down the country.