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Homelessness: Coronavirus

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (North of England) (Northern Powerhouse), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, whether he plans to allocate additional funding to local housing authorities to help those authorities procure accommodation for (a) rough sleepers and (b) homeless people and families as part of the Government's response to the covid-19 outbreak.

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

On 24 May we announced radical plans to provide thousands of long-term, safe homes for vulnerable rough sleepers taken off the streets during this pandemic. This commitment will be backed by £160 million this year through accelerating plans for the £381 million announced for rough sleeping services at Budget, bringing the total to £433 million over the lifetime of this parliament. The Government is increasing the revenue support of the total programme by 37 per cent to make sure that the rough sleepers have the support they need to stay off the streets for good. This funding will support up to 6,000 rough sleepers into longer term accommodation, with 3,300 units of this accommodation becoming available in the next 12 months. Homes England, in partnership with MHCLG, have pledged to work hand-in-hand with leading housing associations and local authorities to deliver this.

On 24 June an additional £105 million was announced for local authorities to enable them to best support the c15,000 people placed into emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is on top of the £433 million announced on the 24 May. Together, these funding streams will enable us to deliver a comprehensive Next Steps and Recover Strategy which will support thousands of individuals to stay safe during the pandemic and ultimately to turn their lives around. Further detailed information on the process to allocate funding is being co-produced with partners and will be published in due course.

Both before and during the pandemic the Government has also put in place significant funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over 2020/21, including:

  • £112 million was allocated this year for the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), an increase of £26 million on 2019/20 funding. We will work with areas to consider how the RSI work will change to reflect the different levels of need and response needed as a result of COVID-19.
  • £3.2 billion has been provided to support councils to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, which includes providing support for vulnerable rough sleepers.
  • This is in addition to £3.2 million in targeted funding for councils to support vulnerable rough sleepers.

For those who require additional support, Discretionary Housing Payments are available. There is already £180 million in Discretionary Housing Payments available for local authorities to distribute for supporting renters with housing costs in 2020/21 including an additional £40 million to tackle affordability pressures in the private rented sector. We have increased the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents. This is an important policy that will benefit 1.6 million people.

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