As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the government has advised all local authorities across England and Wales to find accommodation for rough sleepers so that they are sufficiently protected from the coronavirus.
Luke Hall MP, Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, wrote a letter to local authorities across the country on 26 March 2020. He advised them that rough sleepers are amongst some of the most vulnerable members of society and announced additional funding to assist with helping those people off of the streets and into accommodation with some form of support for basic necessities, such as food and drink, where necessary.
Most local authorities have sought to comply with the government guidance by placing rough sleepers in emergency hotel accommodation. However, it appears that the funding is now drying up and the local authorities are looking to overcome that difficulty by sending the homeless back onto the streets again.
As part of the “Everyone In” scheme, the government provided an additional £3.2m funding to the cause. However, earlier this month, the government announced that it is due to stop the funding for the scheme as it has already delegated an extra £3.2bn in funding to help local authorities to deal with the pressures of the pandemic – that is despite only 10% of that funding going towards helping rough sleepers. The government denies cutting back funding for rough sleepers in the midst of the pandemic.
Nevertheless, the result of funding being stopped is that, as advised by Crisis, we are now facing the prospect of 14,500 people becoming street homeless again. They have argued that this is an opportunity for the government to make significant progress with helping the homeless into permanent housing. It appears that this is an opportunity which should not be missed by the government.
Crisis also want the government to pass an emergency homelessness bill forcing local authorities in England to provide emergency accommodation for a year to those people who have become homeless during and/or as a result of the pandemic due to job loss and consequent difficulties with paying the rent at their properties or relationship breakdowns leading to homelessness.
Whatever the scenario, local authorities must continue to provide accommodation for those people who are, or are at risk of, sleeping rough. All homeless people are entitled to make a homelessness application to a local authority of their choice – although usually the local authority area in which they reside is the best option – and have their application properly considered by the local authority with a view to permanent housing being secured in the long term.
If you are, or know anyone who is, having any difficulties with homelessness or housing circumstances, then you can approach us at Duncan Lewis Solicitors to assist you.
Author Gareth Hutton is a caseworker in the housing department at Duncan Lewis Solicitors where he handles a range of housing law matters including social housing and homelessness; landlord and tenant disputes; disrepair; possession proceedings and unlawful evictions. He works under the supervision of director Manjinder Kaur Atwal.
Contact Gareth on 02079238457 or at Garethh@duncanlewis.com
Contact Manjinder on 02031141269 or at firstname.lastname@example.org