Coronavirus budget leaves homeless in the cold

The Salvation Army is urging the Government to ensure that it makes provision for rough sleepers and homeless people as part of their coronavirus planning.  

Despite putting £5bn into the NHS’s corona response and a £500m hardship fund for local authorities to support vulnerable people in their areas there has been no specific support outlined for rough sleepers.

Those forced to sleep rough or who are homeless are among the most vulnerable of groups and The Salvation Army is worried that if the virus does spread they will be among the first to die.

Malcolm Page, The Salvation Army’s Assistant Director of Homelessness Services said:

“We welcome the extra money for the NHS but it is essential that rough sleepers are properly diagnosed and cared for as part of the coronavirus response. The Salvation Army is braced for worried rough sleepers to be turning to our centres for help and we are continuing to work hard to deliver our regular services and safe places.

“Despite the local authority funding for vulnerable people many homeless people could still miss out though as this money comes against a backdrop of chronic under funding for services and it will need to stretch across many vulnerable groups. Couple this with rough sleepers being more difficult to engage with and they may not get vital support should they fall sick.”

Homeless funding

The plight of homeless people was highlighted in the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s Budget speech. The Salvation Army is pleased to see support for rough sleepers singled out with the announcement of £643m in funding over the course of this parliament, but far more is needed to properly help the people forced to live on the street.

Malcolm Page, The Salvation Army’s Assistant Director of Homelessness Services continued: “This simply doesn’t go far enough. Without significant further funding in specialist housing provision and support services for former rough sleepers then the Government is on target to fail to meet its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.

“The funding announcement of £144m specifically for housing support services over the next four years is a drop in the ocean when measured against cuts to local authority budgets over the last decade. In 2018/19, local authorities spent almost £1bn less on support services for single homeless people as compared to 2008/09.  

“We know through our support services like Housing First, our Lifehouses and homeless drop-ins that the only way to truly beat rough sleeping is to invest in long-term support to help people tackle the complex reasons that led people to be on the streets, like mental ill health, childhood trauma, domestic violence or an addiction.”

Catherine Cashmore

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