By Tony O’Riley-
Minister for Rough Sleeping and homelessness, Tony Hall, has urged homeless people to stay with family, as he asked chiefs to consider “all options” for supporting homeless people in the pandemic.
Thousands of rough sleepers in the UK were put in emergency accommodation during the height of the coronavirus epidemic including in hotels, as part of a scheme called ‘Everyone In’. The scheme saw very few people without a roof over their heads, and many B&B’s continue to accommodate rough sleepers across the UK.
Homelessness campaigners have called for the British government to ensure permanent housing for rough sleepers when the coronavirus period is over, after several millions of pounds was injected into councils to address homelessness.
Mr Hall has now given English councils until June 11 to produce a “next steps” plan of where people should be housed.
He wrote to town hall chief executives on May 28: “In terms of move-on accommodation, all options need to be considered, his letter said.
“We ask that you seek to encourage people, where appropriate and possible, to return to friends and family.”
The letter then advised councils to find “as many sustainable move-on options for people as possible.”
Sustainable move on options includes supporting people to move into private rents, or short-term accommodation to stop people returning to the streets.
Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire has condemned the letter which appears to contradict previous indication by the government to tackle homelessness in the UK.
She said: “This half-baked suggestion shows that this Government is already rowing back from that promise.
“These comments smack of incompetence.”Luke Hall has shown a woeful lack of understanding about the complex reasons why so many people sleep rough in this country.
“If rough sleepers were able to return to their friends and family, they would not be sleeping rough.
“They need somewhere safe to live and the support to make a go of it.
“The Government should be working with councils to fulfil its commitment to end rough sleeping, not washing of its hands of the responsibility to house the homeless.”
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman insisted people would return to friends or family “only where appropriate and possible”.
“Our new rough sleeping taskforce has one overriding objective: to ensure as many people as possible who have been brought in off the streets in this pandemic do not return to sleeping rough.