Minister for Local Government and Homelessness sets out a programme of actions designed to help reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on people facing homelessness
The government has written to local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, and those in hostels and night shelters, by the weekend.
In the letter, Minister for Local Government and Homelessness Luke Hall sets out a programme of actions designed to help reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on people facing homelessness, based on four principles -
- to focus on people who are, or are at risk of, sleeping rough, and those who are in accommodation where it is difficult to self-isolate, such as shelters and assessment centres;
- to make sure that people have access to the facilities that enable them to adhere to public health guidance on hygiene or isolation, ideally single room facilities;
- to utilise alternative powers and funding to assist those with no recourse to public funds who require shelter and other forms of support due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- to mitigate their own risk of infection, and transmission to others, by ensuring they are able to self-isolate as appropriate in line with public health guidance
Councils should do this, Mr Hall says, by -
- convening a local coordination cell to plan and manage their response to COVID-19 and rough sleeping involving the local authority (housing, social care and public health) and local NHS partners together;
- seeking to stop homeless people from congregating in facilities such as day centres and street encampments where there is a higher risk of transmission;
- urgently procuring accommodation for people on the streets if they have not already done so;
- triaging people where possible into three cohorts driven by medical advice: those with symptoms of COVID-19; those with pre-existing conditions but without symptoms; and those without symptoms or pre-existing conditions;
- getting the social care basics such as food and clinician care to people who need it in self-contained accommodation; and
- if possible, separating those who have significant drug and alcohol needs from those who do not.
The Minister adds that -
'We know that this requires funding. Last week, the Government announced £1.6bn for local authorities to respond to other COVID-19 pressures including for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. This grant will cover all costs incurred in the first phase of the response, but we will keep future funding need under review.'
As a result, Mr Hall says that, to support the government's understanding of what is likely to be required, it will be working with local authorities to develop an ongoing assessment of costs.
For more information, see Letter from Minister Hall to local authorities from gov.uk