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Almost £1m for Norfolk to keep roofs over heads of homeless people

PUBLISHED: 17:04 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:04 17 September 2020

Extra money has been awarded to councils to help keep homeless people in accommodation. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Extra money has been awarded to councils to help keep homeless people in accommodation. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

More than £1m has been awarded to councils across Norfolk to try to help keep the homeless people who were housed due to coronavirus lockdown in accommodation.

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borogh Council. Picture: Ella WilkinsonCarl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borogh Council. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Councils scrambled to house their homeless populations in temporary accommodation over the course of a weekend in March after lockdown restrictions were imposed.

The move presented what the chief executive of Norwich’s St Martins’ Housing Trust described as a “once in a generation” opportunity to put an end to rough sleeping.

But there were concerns the momentum would be lost due to a lack of cash for ongoing support and people would end up back on the streets.

However, the government has announced £91.5m to help keep people in accommodation, of which just over £1m for Norfolk.

Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping. Pic: Archant Library.Kevin Maguire, Norwich City Council cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping. Pic: Archant Library.

The biggest amount is going to Great Yarmouth, with just under £400,000 to help the borough council continue its work.

Council leader Carl Smith, said: “As part of our community response to coronavirus, the council made offers of temporary accommodation to 153 people who were rough sleepers or at risk of rough sleeping, between March 23 and June 30, as part of the ‘Everyone In’ initiative.

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“While we’re pleased to say that some have transitioned into longer-term accommodation via the council, its partners or into tenancies in the private rented sector, a proportion remain in temporary accommodation and the council is working with those individuals to support them into settled accommodation.

“We have actively sought funding to support this ongoing important work and welcome the announcement of additional national funding.”

Norwich City Council is getting £217,350. Kevin Maguire, cabinet member with responsibility for rough sleeping, said: “Since the beginning of lockdown, working with our partners at Pathways Norwich, the council has provided emergency accommodation for 120 rough sleepers, or those at risk of rough sleeping. Of these, 104 have now been moved out of emergency accommodation and into more settled accommodation.

“We are pleased to have received the money that we bid for from central government which will enable us to deal with the effects of Covid-19 in the short term.

However, there are wider issues which affect rough sleepers such as lack of accommodation and support services, which need longer term funding solutions.

“We are also concerned about the likely upsurge in people finding themselves homeless due to the financial impact of Covid-19, and we urge government to continue to provide sufficient funding so that local councils can be prepared to respond to increased demand.”

Breckland Council is getting £114,950 and other Norfolk councils just under £100,000.

Robert Jenrick, housing secretary, said: “The incredible national effort to support rough sleepers during the pandemic has protected many lives and is widely regarded as one of the most successful programmes of its kind in the world. I’m hugely grateful to all those involved.

“This funding will ensure that vulnerable people and rough sleepers continue to have safe accommodation and the care and support they need, to ensure as few as possible return to the streets.”


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