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Homelessness charities urge government to remove last remaining barriers preventing councils from getting ‘Everyone In’

Charity CEO’s say it is a ‘race against time’ to support homeless people during the pandemic

Major homelessness charities including Crisis, Homeless Link and The Passage have written to the government to urge that the remaining barriers preventing people who are homeless from getting access to the self-contained accommodation they need be removed, as too many people remain on the street or stuck in hostels and night shelters.

Last Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the government wrote to all local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, and those in hostels and night shelters, by last weekend.

While significant progress has been made in supporting people into hotel rooms, far too many people are still rough sleeping or staying in dangerous communal night shelters.

The charities state that over the course of the week they have heard repeated examples of councils denying help to people on the basis of them not having a local connection to the area or on the grounds that they have no recourse to public funds – meaning they are not eligible for government assistance.

As this remains a public health emergency, the charities warn that failure to act could risk putting more lives in danger.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “We commend the government’s swift action to protect people most at risk by ensuring they have somewhere safe to stay during the pandemic. But the stark fact remains that there are people whose lives are still in danger, sleeping on our streets or trapped in crowded hostels and night shelters.

“To fulfil the ambition of getting ‘everyone in’ we must see the final barriers stopping people from getting the help they need removed. This means ensuring councils have the money they need to support people into hotel accommodation and a clear message that anyone, no matter who they are or their circumstance, will get the help they need to shelter from the pandemic.

 “We must also ensure that once people have been accommodated they get access to the health care they need if they are affected by the virus, and in the long term are supported into safe, permanent housing once this crisis is over.”