Local funding to tackle rough sleeping.
The Government has announced the allocation of an additional £203 million across England to tackle rough sleeping and provide support for people living on the streets. It is just one part of the £750 million that the Government will be spending this financial year on homelessness and rough sleeping.
It is important to differentiate between these two terms because they are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably. Homelessness is an umbrella term used to describe anyone without permanent accommodation. This includes people who are staying with friends or family, and people being temporarily supported in a hostel, hotel or B&B. Rough sleeping specifically refers to people who are sleeping on the streets.
The extra £203 million will provide funding for 14,500 bed spaces and 2,700 full time equivalent staff to deliver interventions to support rough sleepers. It will also help local authorities and other providers to provide long term preventative support. The funding is part of the successful Rough Sleep Initiative which was set up four years ago but really ramped up during the pandemic.
While most of the funding is being channelled into cities, rural parts of the country are benefiting too and Teignbridge District Council has been allocated nearly £350,000. Although not in my Central Devon constituency, I am very aware of the excellent work done at Albany House in Newton Abbot which not only provides temporary accommodation for Teignbridge residents struggling with homelessness but provides additional tailored support to individuals and households living there.
Please get vaccinated.
Last Monday the Government lifted more lockdown restrictions, with two households now allowed to meet indoors, groups of 30 allowed to meet outdoors, and businesses such as pubs now allowed to welcome patrons inside. These changes have gone ahead as planned because the vaccine rollout has continued at pace, vaccines are proving to be effective, and hospitalisations, deaths and infection rates remain low.
I believe the decision the Government took is the right one, that re-opening more of our economy will help struggling businesses and that the easing restrictions will help many people who have found not being able to see family in other parts of the country very difficult. But we must remain cautious and not push the boundaries beyond what we are now allowed to do.
I would also continue to urge people to get vaccinated when they are invited. We are seeing the spread of a more transmissible strain of the virus (the so-called Indian variant) in much of the country but the scientific evidence suggests that the vaccine is still very effective against it. In fact, of those who have been hospitalised with the variant, the majority are people who had turned down the offer of a jab. By getting vaccinated we can better protect ourselves, reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to others if we do catch it, and we are also helping to protect our NHS.
For more from Mel visit www.melstridemp.com.