Shelter welcomes the government’s lifesaving letter to get everyone off the streets this winter and into safe emergency accommodation

Posted 23 Dec 2021

On Monday (20 Dec 21), the Minister for Rough Sleeping, Eddie Hughes, announced an additional £28m for councils to help accommodate and vaccinate more people sleeping rough. He also quietly published a letter to  the chief executives of every council in England instructing them to “make offers of safe and appropriate accommodation to people who are rough sleeping now”. 

The letter which follows on from last year’s ‘Everyone In’ and ‘Protect Programme’ initiatives, contained welcome clarification that councils can accommodate people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). NRPF is a condition on some people’s immigration status preventing them from accessing homelessness assistance – which meant some people were being denied help. 

Shelter is welcoming the news as it gives councils a clear mandate to help everyone at risk of sleeping rough during the current wave of Omicron infections, and cold winter weather. Rough sleeping is dangerous and too often deadly, which is why the charity has been campaigning hard, along with other organisations, to make sure no-one is left out on the streets this winter.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The government has quietly offered a lifeline to people forced to sleep rough – it has finally told councils they should accommodate everyone on the streets this winter, as well as helping them to get vaccinated. This is excellent news. 

“Despite the ‘Everyone In’ scheme helping thousands off the streets and undoubtedly saving lives, at the start of the pandemic, not everyone was helped. We know from our own services that overstretched councils were, and are, still turning some people away. Now the government has instructed councils to help anyone sleeping rough, they must double-down on their efforts to make sure no one falls through the cracks.

“To remove any room for doubt the government must now follow-up with guidance for councils that makes clear everyone should be given access to safe emergency accommodation. And to help councils with this life-saving task it also needs to ensure there is enough funding available to get people the right support and get them back on their feet.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

Notes to the editors:  

  • The latest government data shows that on any given night at least 2,688 people will sleep rough in England. This is also widely known to be an underestimate of the true scale of the problem. [MHCLG, Rough sleeping snapshot in England: autumn 2020, January 2021.] 

  • The latest official data shows at least two people a day died while homeless during the pandemic last year. In 2020, an estimated 688 homeless people died in England and Wales. However, the figures are also likely to be an underestimate because the ONS states the ‘Everyone In scheme’ has made it more difficult to identify homeless people in the mortality records. [ONS, Deaths of homeless people in England and Wales: 2020, Table 1.] 

About Shelter: Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home and fight the devastating impact the housing emergency has on people and society. Shelter believes that home is everything. Learn more at www.shelter.org.uk. 

About Shelter’s Winter Appeal 2021: Join Shelter now in the fight against homelessness and bad housing. The people who use Shelter’s services are giving it all they can to fight for a safe home. By giving a little you can help Shelter do a lot - the public’s ongoing generosity means the charity can keeping providing support and advice to thousands of people this winter and beyond. Visit www.shelter.org.uk/donate