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22 December, 2021 Open access

Government announces £25 million funding for local authorities in England to accommodate rough sleepers in response to Omicron variant

Minister says that local authorities should make offers of safe and appropriate accommodation to all those rough sleeping, including those who may have previously been offered accommodation but rejected it or left accommodation

The government has announced £25 million funding for local authorities in England to accommodate rough sleepers.

Setting out details of the funding in a letter to local authority chief executives, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Eddie Hughes says -

'As we have seen through the course of the pandemic, one of the most immediate ways to prevent transmission of Covid-19 amongst those sleeping rough is to provide self-contained accommodation. We have already provided significant funding to expand rough sleeping pathways, particularly through the Rough Sleeping Initiative; however, given the new threat posed by Omicron we recognise we need to go further. Therefore, we are announcing a £25 million funding package to support all local authorities across England to find appropriate accommodation and, most importantly, to use this as a way of boosting vaccination rates across this vulnerable population.'

Mr Hughes goes on to say that local authorities should (subject to individual assessments) make offers of safe and appropriate accommodation to people who are rough sleeping now, including those who may have previously been offered accommodation but rejected it or left accommodation, and individuals new to rough sleeping who require help to move on from rough sleeping, adding that -

'Importantly, you should do all you can, working with partners in the NHS to ensure everyone in this cohort gets vaccinated. For people who have received no doses of the vaccine or just one, this will take time as the latest clinical advice recommends five months to become fully vaccinated (first vaccine to booster), and this is why it is vital that we provide additional funding for emergency accommodation to keep people safe.'

Mr Hughes also confirms that the government has allocated £3.2 million in funding to local authorities to encourage the uptake of vaccination amongst people sleeping rough, and provides information on the amount allocated for both accommodation and vaccine uptake by local authority.

Mr Hughes' letter to local authorities on plans to protect and vaccinate rough sleepers is available from gov.uk