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Homelessness: Death

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 7th October 2019.

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Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, with reference to the Office for National Statistics report showing a 22 per cent rise in the deaths of homeless people in 2018, what plans his Department has to prevent the deaths of homeless people and rough sleepers.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The government is committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022, before ending it altogether and has now committed over £1.2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the spending review period to April 2020.

In the recent Spending Round, we announced £422 million funding for homelessness in 2020/21, an increase of £54 million.

The government changed the law and the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA), which is the most ambitious legislation in this area in decades, came into force on 3 April 2018.  The HRA requires councils to provide early support for those at risk of having nowhere left to go. The government is also boosting access to affordable housing and making renting more secure.

We also recognise the challenges that the cold weather poses for those who are sleeping rough. On 12 September 2019, we launched a second year of the Cold Weather Fund. This £10 million fund will be available to all local authorities in England to provide a robust, local response to support as many rough sleepers as possible off the streets during the winter period. This is double the funding made available last winter. Local authorities will be able to access this funding until March 2020.

Whilst we recognise that suitable housing is a key part of the solution, health services have a significant role to play, alongside other public services. The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government is working with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that rough sleepers have the health care they need, when they need it. This includes several commitments that were made in the Rough Sleeping Strategy, such as:

  • rapid audit of health service provision to rough sleepers, including mental health and substance misuse treatment ;
  • committing £30 million for mental health services from NHS England for rough sleeping over the next five years ;
  • providing up to £2 million in health funding to test models of community-based provision designed to enable access to health and support services for people who are sleeping rough, and;
  • working with Safeguarding Adult Boards to ensure that Safeguarding Adult Reviews happen where appropriate. Lessons learned from these reviews will inform improvements in local systems and services.

Professor Dame Carol Black has been appointed to carry out a major review of drug misuse. The review, which is building on existing government strategies to combat drugs, serious violence and serious and organised crime, is examining the harms that drugs cause and the best ways to prevent drug-taking.

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