Alok Sharma, Member of Parliament for Reading West, has welcomed the announcement from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, of an allocation of a further £46 million for the Rough Sleeping Initiative fund to support those sleeping rough and those at risk in 246 local authorities across England, including Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire Council.
The further funding follows an announcement in June 2018 of a £30 million fund, targeted at 83 areas with the highest levels of rough sleeping, to support the work of the Rough Sleeping Initiative team.
The 2018 annual rough sleeping statistics showed a decrease of 639 or 19% in numbers of rough sleepers across these areas. Whilst the programme is still in its infancy, the figures continue to demonstrate that the Rough Sleeping Initiative has had a significant impact on the number of people sleeping rough and is working. Therefore, the Government is providing a further £34 million to these 83 areas in 2019/20.
The Government launched a bidding round in December 2018 for those areas not in the initial 83 and will be providing an additional £12 million to a further 163 local authorities in 2019/20. This will continue to build on the work the Government has carried out so far to make sure they continue to support more people off the streets and into safe and secure accommodation.
This funding will provide for over 750 new staff focused on rough sleeping. This will include more outreach workers to engage with people on the streets, specialist mental health and substance misuse workers and dedicated co-ordinators to drive efforts to reduce rough sleeping in their areas. It will also provide for over 2,650 new bed spaces including both emergency, temporary and settled accommodation. The breadth of this funding will provide coverage of 75% of local authorities across England.
The Rough Sleeping Initiative Team, made up of expert Advisers with knowledge and experience in areas such as mental health, specialist housing, substance misuse and criminal justice will continue to work closely with local areas to implement the plans and to monitor their progress.
Reading Borough Council and West Berkshire Council have been allocated £334,750 and £261,820 respectively.
Alok Sharma MP said: “I am very pleased that both local authorities in my constituency have been allocated further funding to help tackle rough sleeping and those at risk of homelessness. I believe the steps being taken by the Government will help to achieve the Government’s aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it altogether by 2027.”
The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “I am confident this package of support will achieve substantial results across England. It will also build upon the work we have already undertaken. This work includes: publishing our cross-government Rough Sleeping Strategy which sets out an ambitious £100m package to help people who sleep rough now and puts in place the structures that will end rough sleeping once and for all, piloting the Housing First approach, which has an internationally proven evidence base for effectiveness allocating over £1.2 billion in order to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping, including more upfront funding so local authorities can proactively tackle homelessness pressures in their areas, and, additionally, the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act which means that more people now get the help they need and at an earlier stage so preventing homelessness from occurring in the first place.”