I’ve repeated my call for the Government to end rough sleeping this winter after research by the Observer newspaper revealed that more than 70,000 households have been made homeless in the UK since the start of the pandemic. I previously called on Ministers to commit that no one in Yorkshire and the Humber would spend this winter on the streets last December.
Along with those who have been made homeless, more than 50,000 other households were threatened with homelessness, despite government pledges to protect tenants and prevent evictions.
The high levels of homelessness have also been brought to light by a new report from the National Audit Office into the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme. In the initial wave of coronavirus, rough sleepers were temporarily housed in self-contained accommodation, including in empty hotels and hostels through this scheme.
The NAO has found that the number of people accommodated under ‘Everyone In’ far exceeded the number of people recorded as rough sleeping in the government’s annual national ‘snapshot’ of the rough sleeping population. In the autumn of 2019, this snapshot estimated that there were 4,266 people sleeping rough on any given night, compared to the over 33,000 people who were helped by ‘Everyone In’.
The highly infectious new strain of Covid along with the cold winter weather makes this an especially dangerous time for rough sleepers.
The Government promised to end rough sleeping for good but these new figures show that levels of homelessness are shockingly high. Instead of last-minute U-turns and piecemeal homelessness support, the government needs to support renters, crack down on illegal evictions, and ensure nobody spends this lockdown on the streets.