Plan to end rough sleeping in England by 2027

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    Someone asking for money near WestminsterImage copyright Getty Images

    The government has vowed to end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027.

    It has promised £100m “to help people turn their lives around”, including support for mental health and addictions, and funding for housing.

    Homelessness has been on the rise for the past seven years, with around 4,750 people estimated to be sleeping rough on any given night in England in 2017.

    Homeless charities welcomed the plan, but warned that it was “a step forward and not a total fix”.

    The Rough Sleeping Strategy, to be announced by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire on Monday, will focus on preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place by offering strategic support.

    About £30 million will be spent on mental health support and treatment for substance misuse as part of the proposals, which were developed in conjunction with charities and experts.

    It includes training for staff on how to help people who use the illegal drug Spice – a synthetic cannabinoid that 90-95% of homeless people in Manchester are estimated to use.

    In addition, the government will put about £50m towards homes outside London for those who are ready to move on from hostels or refuges.

    Rough sleepers will also be helped to access services and accommodation by a network of specialist “navigators”.

    ‘Underlying problems’

    Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We recognise this is a complex issue – as well as ensuring people have somewhere to live, we have to deal with underlying problems and ultimately help people turn their lives around.”

    Ministers are also expected to review legislation on homelessness and rough sleeping, including the Vagrancy Act – which currently makes it illegal to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales.

    “It is simply unacceptable that people have to sleep on the streets and I am determined to make it a thing of the past,” said Mr Brokenshire.

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    Polly Neate, chief executive of homeless charity Shelter, said: “Let’s be clear, this is a step forward and not a total fix for homelessness.

    “We still need to tackle the chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes, deep instability of renting and problems with housing benefit that are leaving so many without a home.”

    Seven homelessness charities – Crisis, Homeless Link, National Housing Federation, Shelter, St Basils, St Mungos and Thames Reach – who advised ministers on the strategy said, in a joint statement, that it was “a significant step towards the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping by 2027”.

    However, they added that “the government must also set out bold, cross-departmental plans to tackle the root causes of all forms of homelessness and prevent it from happening in the first place”.

    Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey described it as “a feeble plan that lacks any urgency to tackle the crisis of rising rough sleeping”.

    He added that the next Labour government would end rough sleeping within its first term by making 8,000 homes available to those with a history of sleeping on the streets.

    View the original article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45162892

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45162892

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