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8 January, 2021 Open access

Housing charities welcome government announcement of ‘extra support’ to help protect rough sleepers from the effects of Covid-19

English councils to be asked to redouble their efforts to help accommodate all those currently sleeping rough and ensure they are registered with a GP, and reach out again to those who have previously refused help

Housing charities have welcomed today's announcement by the government of 'extra support' to help protect rough sleepers from the effects of Covid-19.

The chief executives of Crisis and St Mungo's were responding to Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick's announcement that -

'Backed by an additional £10 million in funding, all councils in England are being asked to redouble their efforts to help accommodate all those currently sleeping rough and ensure they are swiftly registered with a GP, where they are not already.

This will ensure they can be protected from the virus and contacted to receive vaccinations in line with the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Councils will also be asked to reach out again to those who have previously refused help, given rising infection rates and the colder winter months.'

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said - 

'What is very welcome here is the two-pronged approach – a continued commitment to getting everyone into safe accommodation but also now making sure people are registered with a GP so they can quickly access the vaccines.

We know through our services that people facing homelessness often are not registered with a doctor’s surgery. Addressing this issue will be a lifesaving intervention and a step towards ensuring people who are homeless are protected in the longer-term.'

Steve Douglas, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, said -

'We and other homelessness charities called on government to provide an urgent and decisive response to support those sleeping rough who now face the double threat of severely cold weather and a continued health emergency.

We welcome this response and will work with our local authority and health partners to provide both the immediate accommodation and the health care advice that is needed to protect lives.'

NB - the government also announced today that the ban on bailiff evictions in England for all but the most egregious cases will be extended to at least 21 February 2021, and that a new mediation pilot will be launched next month, working within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales, to offer mediation to landlords and renters as part of the possession process.

For more information, see Extra covid protections for rough sleepers and renters from gov.uk