Britain

Task force to ‘end homelessness by 2027’

Plans have been announced to eliminate homelessness within a decade.

Councils with high levels of rough sleepers will be given cash from a £30m fund and a task force will be created to examine the problem, said Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

There are some 4,700 rough sleepers in England and housing minster Heather Wheeler has vowed to resign if the number grows on her watch.

The Government hopes to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027.

The recent wintry weather and sub-zero temperatures resulted in a record number of homeless people being referred to a specialist helpline, bringing the issue into sharp focus.

Mr Javid said: "This winter has tragically claimed the lives of a number of people sleeping on the streets.

"This is completely unacceptable in modern Britain.

"No one should ever have to sleep rough and this Government is determined to break the homelessness cycle once and for all."

The task force will have representatives from government departments and agencies with knowledge in areas such as mental health, addiction and housing.

There will also be £100,000 of funding for frontline workers to improve their skills.

Image:Homeless numbers in London doubled in the past six years, charities have said

Mr Javid added: "Tackling the causes of rough sleeping is undoubtedly complex but we must do all we can – working across central and local government, the voluntary and charity sector – to help the most vulnerable in society and eliminate rough sleeping for good."

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said the plans were "a pitiful response to a national crisis that has grown worse every year since 2010".

He added: "You can't help the homeless if you won't provide the homes, and the money announced here is less than 1% of the Conservatives' annual cut to funding for new low-cost housing."

Greg Beales, campaigns director at homelessness charity Shelter, welcomed the measures but added: "Most of these people became homeless simply because they couldn't afford anywhere to live, a situation made far worse by welfare cuts.

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"We very much hope that the Government's new strategy will go far enough in removing the barriers that deny people a safe, secure and affordable home.

"That means building more social homes to rent, and making sure housing benefit is fit for purpose."

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