To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to address (1) homelessness, and (2) rough sleeping, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
14 October 2020
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of vulnerable people have been housed in emergency accommodation in England, thanks to the hard work of local councils and charities – saving hundreds of lives.
On 13 October, we announced a new £10 million Cold Weather Fund to support councils get rough sleepers off the streets during the winter by helping them to provide more self-contained accommodation. This is in addition to £2 million for faith and community groups to help them provide secure accommodation?for rough sleepers. Alongside this, comprehensive guidance will be shared with the sector, produced with Public Health England, Homeless Link and Housing Justice, to help shelters open more safely, where not doing so would endanger lives.
On 18 July, we launched the Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP), making available the financial resources needed to support English local authorities and their partners to prevent people from returning to the streets. On 17 September we announced local authority allocations for the short-term funding aspect of NSAP. £91.5m was allocated to 274 councils in England to help vulnerable people housed during the pandemic. The remaining £13.5 million of funding will be used to support local authority to tackle new and emerging challenges over the winter.
We are also supporting those at risk of homelessness, with an injection of over £9 billion into the welfare system. This includes increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents.
In addition, we have introduced legislation that means, from 29 August 2020, landlords must give tenants six months’ notice before they can evict in most circumstances. This helps ensures those most at risk are protected and provides time for tenants to agree a solution with their landlord if they are unable to pay their rent. The Government is providing £4.8 billion to help councils to manage the impacts of COVID-19 which includes their work to support homeless people.
We will continue to focus on delivering support to those who are most vulnerable from this pandemic, and these measures further demonstrate our commitment to assist the most vulnerable in society.