Extra £15m lockdown funding for the homeless not 'extensive' enough, charity warns

Credit: PA

The government's pledge of an extra £15 million of funding to support those sleeping rough during the winter months of the pandemic has been branded not "extensive" enough.

The funding, announced by the Prime Minister on Thursday, forms part of a new scheme to help local councils find accommodation for vulnerable people during the Covid crisis.

Crisis, the UK’s national charity for homeless people, welcomed the additional support of the "Protect Programme" but said measures did not go far enough.

Thousands of homeless people, including rough sleepers, were rapidly brought into safe accommodation at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Credit: ITV News

Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said: "With England now in lockdown and the cold weather creeping in, it’s positive to see the Westminster government providing additional funding through the Protect Programme to support people rough sleeping this winter, and to keep renters in their homes.

"But let’s be clear - this funding for 10 areas of the country isn’t nearly as extensive as what we saw in March yet the threat from the virus remains the same.

Mr Sparkes warned the money would "run out quickly" while council resources will be "under pressure" to support those in need.

"We must not leave people exposed to the virus and the streets," he added.

Homelessness charities want to see long-term funding and a commitment to making a difference to people's lives. Credit: PA

In addition to the funding, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that bailiff enforcement action will not be permitted during England's new national lockdown - or over the Christmas period.

The government said the scheme would be in addition to the original "Everyone In" campaign launched earlier in the year.

Minister claim that initiative had already helped more 29,000 people by September.

Boris Johnson told a Downing Street briefing on Thursday that two thirds of those helped had now been moved into settled accommodation.

"This programme will help those areas that need additional support most during the restrictions and throughout the winter."

The government said areas with high numbers of rough sleepers will receive extra targeted support which would continue throughout the winter until March 2021.

But Mr Sparkes added that support already provided by the government should be developed further while the pandemic continued.

"With thousands of people having already been supported into more permanent accommodation, we must build on this progress and ensure that everyone helped through this scheme will have a permanent place to call home when this emergency is over," he said.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: "It’s critical that access to safe accommodation is not a lottery in this pandemic,

"It must be there for everyone who needs it."