The government has pledged to end rough sleeping by 2012 with the announcement of the largest ever single investment in homelessness services.
The Department of Communities and Local Government outlined a £200m commitment for a wide range of services to tackle homelessness at the launch of the No-one Left Out: communities ending rough sleeping strategy yesterday. Plans include strengthening “assertive outreach” services, setting up schemes to help rough sleepers into employment and piloting the use of individual budgets for rough sleepers.
For the first time single people at risk of rough sleeping and other vulnerable groups previously considered ineligible for assistance will be offered essential “safety net” services such as rent deposit schemes and supported lodgings.
More personalised service
Housing minister Margaret Beckett said the strategy would help prevent people from ending up on the streets, as well as helping them out of rough sleeping, by creating a more personalised service. She added: “We have achieved much in tackling rough sleeping and homelessness over the last 10 years, but it’s time for us all to say rough sleeping in 21st century Britain is unacceptable.”
Homeless charities have hailed the announcement as “visionary”. Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards said: “This is an important moment for our country. We know it will not be easy at this time of intense economic and social pressure.”
Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy said: “In the current economic crisis, with people losing their homes and jobs and facing potential homelessness, it is more important than ever that the government takes action to end rough sleeping.”
However, a note of caution was sounded by London’s largest homeless charity, St Mungo’s. Chief executive Charles Fraser warned that the strategy did not go far enough to ensure that people with mental illnesses did not end up living on the streets and called for an “explicit zero-tolerance policy” to prevent them from becoming rough sleepers.
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