A story in the Manchester Evening News on Friday 15 May inaccurately suggests that the government is winding up its support for rough sleepers helped off the streets during the coronavirus pandemic. This is simply wrong.
We do not recognise the claims made by Greater Manchester Combined Authority in one of their internal reports which was leaked to the media.
Any suggestion that the government is reneging on the commitment set out at the start of this national emergency is entirely wrong. We have been clear councils should continue to provide safe accommodation for those who need it, and any suggestion that funding is being withdrawn or people asked to leave hotels by central government is entirely incorrect. This misleading information causes unneeded anxiety and confusion for vulnerable people at an already difficult time.
The latest figures show over 90% of rough sleepers known to councils at the beginning of this crisis have now been made offers of safe accommodation. We’ll continue to support rough sleepers and other vulnerable people throughout this crisis. We have announced that Dame Louise Casey will spearhead a taskforce to lead the next phase of the government’s support for rough sleepers during the pandemic.
The taskforce has one overriding objective: to ensure that as many people as possible who have been brought in off the streets in this pandemic do not return to the streets.
The taskforce will work hand-in-hand with councils across the country on plans to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over – ensuring as few people as possible return to life on the streets.
It will also seek to ensure the thousands of rough sleepers now in accommodation continue to receive the physical and mental health support they need over the coming weeks while they continue to self-isolate from the virus.
While councils continue to provide accommodation to those that need it, it is only responsible that we work with partners to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over.
The government has provided £3.2 billion of additional Government funding, including a total of £170m for councils across Greater Manchester and the GMCA, to help councils respond to coronavirus - including meeting the costs of accommodating some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This is in addition to £3.2 million to specifically help rough sleepers during the coronavirus emergency and the £489 million committed in 2020 to 2021 to help rough sleepers, a £121 million increase in funding from the previous year.
An additional £643 million was announced at Budget for the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Project and substance misuse over four years, £381 million of which will be used to provide move-on accommodation.
Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus remains the government’s top priority.