It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, with the news of an engagement and the announcement of a new baby on the way. Despite this, the PM found time to make a welcome confirmation that funding to the tune of £236 million is to be made available to help Britain’s homeless.
Safe and sound
During the announcement on the 27th of February, Boris Johnson revealed that he has appointed an independent adviser, Dame Louise Casey, to undertake an urgent review into rough sleeping in the UK. The review will seek to provide the Government with advice on the action required to tackle the issue of homelessness. Dame Louise, a Government official, said, “I am pleased to accept this commission from the Prime Minister and the Housing Secretary. Homelessness, and within that rough sleeping, is something that causes misery so I hope that I will be able to help the Government and the country expedite action on this issue”.
Homing in on rough sleeping
The announcement comes just months after the Prime Minister was widely criticised after an old photograph emerged which appeared to show Boris Johnson and a colleague laughing as they walked past a homeless man. Speaking before a visit to a homeless charity last month, Boris Johnson said, ““It is simply unacceptable that we still have so many people sleeping on the streets, and I am absolutely determined to end rough sleeping once and for all. I will not stop until the thousands of people in this situation are helped off the streets and their lives have been rebuilt.
It is said that the new funding - which is on top of the £1.2 billion already invested by the government, including the the Homelessness Reduction Act - will be used to acquire new housing and refurbish existing properties to provide homes for those currently sleeping rough as well as addressing the issue which often lead to homelessness, such as mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. The new funding will be used by councils to provide up to 6,000 beds and 2,500 staff across 2020 and 2021.
With approximately 320,000 people sleeping rough in the UK, the new funding has been welcomed by homelessness charities as well as MPs. The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick, Housing Secretary, said, “I’m determined that we end rough sleeping in this Parliament, meeting our moral obligation to support the most vulnerable in society.
We will be bringing together housing, addiction, mental health and the criminal justice system as never before to tackle this social ill from every angle. The coordinated effort that we will now pursue, beginning with this review, builds on the progress we have made in recent years, reducing the number of people sleeping on the streets.”
Following the funding announcement, the Prime Minister published a video of himself on his Twitter page which was filmed at The Connection, a Central London organisation which helps rough sleepers. In the video, Boris Johnson said that homelessness has ‘many complex components’ and added that, although the homelessness figures are improving, they remain at an unacceptable level.
We will be following this story and, what it may mean for UK landlords.