UK government has vowed to end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027

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GB news 24 desk//

The government has vowed to end rough sleeping on England’s streets by 2027.

It has promised £100m “to help people turn their lives around”, including support for mental health and addictions, and funding for housing.

Homelessness has been on the rise for the past seven years, with around 4,750 people estimated to be sleeping rough on any given night in England in 2017.

Charities welcomed the plan, but warned that it was “a step forward and not a total fix”.

The Rough Sleeping Strategy, to be announced by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire on Monday, will focus on preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place by offering a range of support.

About £30 million will be spent on mental health help and treatment for substance misuse as part of the proposals, which were developed in conjunction with charities and experts.

This will include training for staff on how to help people affected by the illegal drug Spice – a synthetic cannabinoid that 90-95% of homeless people in Manchester are estimated to use.

In addition, the government will put about £50m towards homes outside London for those who are ready to move on from hostels or refuges.

Rough sleepers will also be helped to access services and accommodation by a network of specialist “navigators”.

‘Underlying problems’

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “We recognise this is a complex issue – as well as ensuring people have somewhere to live, we have to deal with underlying problems and ultimately help people turn their lives around.”

Ministers are also expected to review legislation on homelessness and rough sleeping, including the Vagrancy Act – which currently makes it illegal to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales.

“It is simply unacceptable that people have to sleep on the streets and I am determined to make it a thing of the past,” said Mr Brokenshire.

Rough sleepers in England per 10,000 households

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Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

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Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said: “Let’s be clear, this is a step forward and not a total fix for homelessness.

“We still need to tackle the chronic lack of genuinely affordable homes, deep instability of renting and problems with housing benefit that are leaving so many without a home.”

Seven homelessness charities – Crisis, Homeless Link, National Housing Federation, Shelter, St Basils, St Mungo’s and Thames Reach – who advised ministers on the strategy said in a joint statement that it was “a significant step towards the government’s goal of ending rough sleeping by 2027”.

However, they added that ministers “must also set out bold, cross-departmental plans to tackle the root causes of all forms of homelessness and prevent it from happening in the first place”.

Labour shadow housing secretary John Healey described it as “a feeble plan that lacks any urgency to tackle the crisis of rising rough sleeping”.

He added that the next Labour government would end rough sleeping within its first term by making 8,000 homes available to those with a history of sleeping on the streets.

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