Political

Nearly a fifth of homelessness funds to go to voluntary sector as new figures reveal true extent of problem

The Government has overhauled the way in which the number of rough sleepers is counted in order to more accurately show the reality of what is happening around the country. The new figures show that on average 1,768 people sleep rough each night, compared to 440 under the old system.

The big increase is due to every council taking part in the new counting measure. Previously figures were only gathered from areas considered hotspots for rough sleeping. In addition, the figures are now verified by the umbrella group Homeless Link rather than relying on government officials.

Further details have also been published of how the £100m pledged to tackle homelessness will be spent, with just under a fifth (£18.5m) going to the voluntary sector. The package includes £8m to Crisis over the next 2 years, £3.4m for the National Homelessness Advice Service run by Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureau and £150,000 to UK Refuges Online which helps tackle domestic violence, a factor in many cases of homelessness.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said of the announcement,

Homelessness is a very real and worrying problem in our country. Labour’s counting system was deeply flawed, and thanks to the changes made by the coalition, we now have a count that reflects the reality on the streets. Knowing how many rough sleepers there actually are on our streets is a vital first step in deciding how best to deal with the problem.

Charities play a key role in providing shelter, food and support to those who find themselves sleeping on the streets.

This package of funding will provide key support to the voluntary sector to allow these charities to continue to do their impressive work in tackling the problem of homelessness that blights too many lives in our country.

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