Rough sleepers are often highly vulnerable, and typically have far more underlying health conditions than other members of society. Rough sleepers were especially vulnerable during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when their homelessness led to difficulties following Public Health England’s advice on self-isolation, social distancing and hygiene. In response, in March 2020 the government announced a series of initiatives and funding to help get rough sleepers off the streets. This included £3.2 million for the ‘Everyone In’ initiative, which provided emergency funding for accommodation for both rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping
By May 2020, almost 15,000 people in England had been provided with emergency accommodation. The government also established a specialist task force to develop plans for ensuring that as few people as possible return to life on the streets after the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, local authorities have been provided £105m new funding this year to secure accommodation and support for those in emergency accommodation, with a further £160 million to speed up providing 3,300 new housing units for rough sleepers in the next 12 months.
Our investigation will set out the facts around the government’s rehousing of rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic and government’s plans for solving rough sleeping in the longer term.
More information about our work to report on government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.