While lockdown has been a significant challenge for everyone, it has been especially challenging for those who sleep rough or have no fixed address.
During the first lockdown, Government provided funding to house everyone rapidly – called Everyone In – and this funding enabled the Council to temporarily accommodate people in hotels and elsewhere. The Council made a concerted effort to find permanent accommodation for thouse housed on an emergency basis.
Unfortunately, the Government stopped this funding and it was not restarted during the third lockdown. This has left the Council’s homelessness and rough sleeping teams having to pitch for additional pots of short-term Government funding and trying to support people during this lockdown with limited resources.
At last month’s Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, Cllr William Jeavons asked questions about this funding model and the impact of short-termist thinking in Government on the ability to plan and deliver sustained projects and support which rough sleepers and homeless people need.
The ability to provide ongoing support for those with complex circumstances depends on holistic, multi-agency solutions. The Council is providing this with a new team of Council staff called ‘navigators’ who help co-ordinate support across different bodies for rough sleepers.
Despite cuts of £50 million forced on the Council by Government in the the upcoming Council budget, the homelessness and rough sleeping service has been protected from frontline service reductions to ensure this service and vital multi-agency work can continue.
This year, there has been a high number of engagements with the service — over 400 different people — but we are pleased that rough sleeping has fallen and the most recent street count found less than 30 people sleeping rough across the city.