£12 million to help rough sleepers this winter

The government has announced a new £10 million Cold Weather Fund to support councils get rough sleepers off the streets during the winter by helping them to provide more self-contained accommodation.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick claims that this will give local areas the tools and funding they need to protect people from life-threatening cold weather and the risks posed by coronavirus.

An additional £2 million will also be made available for faith and community groups to help them provide secure accommodation for rough sleepers.

Jenrick said: “As we approach winter, we are focusing on the best way to protect rough sleepers from the cold weather and coronavirus. The funding and guidance I’m announcing today will mean that working with councils and community groups, some of the most vulnerable people in society are given support and a safe place to stay this winter.

“The government is spending over half a billion pounds to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone and working with our partners, some of the most vulnerable people in our society have been helped into accommodation or other support during the pandemic and we are accelerating plans for thousands of new homes.”

However, homelessness charity Crisis has claimed that the package fails to match the ‘everyone in’ strategy that was launched in March, when thousands of people were given self-contained accommodation, saving hundreds of lives. Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said that night shelters should not open at all and more money should be given to councils to deliver self-contained accommodation.

He said: “This funding falls short of the bold action we need to keep people sleeping on our streets safe this winter. Back in March, the government rightly decided that night shelters and hostels were not a safe environment for people during the pandemic. It’s completely unacceptable that this approach should now change as we go into winter when the threat remains the same. We must not force people to choose between freezing on the street or a shelter, when both needlessly put lives at risk.”