Homelessness: Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs

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, what plans he has to improve drug and alcohol support for 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.

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 (MHCLG) is working with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to ensure that rough sleepers have the health care they need, when the 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;
  • 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;
  • new training for front-line workers to help them support rough sleepers under the influence of New Psychoactive Substances such as spice, and;
  • working with the Home Office to ensure rough sleepers are considered in the forthcoming Alcohol Strategy, which will focus on vulnerable people.

We are continuing to work with colleagues in the DHSC, Public Health England and the Home Office on this issue, including through the forthcoming independent review of drugs policy, led by Professor Dame Carol Black.

At the start of September, the Chancellor announced the Spending Round outcome for the next financial year (2020/21). MHCLG secured £422 million funding for homelessness in 2020/21, an increase of £54 million. The Chancellor also announced an increase in the level of funding for the public health grant to bring it back up to the same level as last year. This means local authorities can continue to invest in prevention and essential front-line health services.

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