CENTRAL DEVON MP Mel Stride has urged local authorities to take advantage of central government funding to help people who are homeless or rough sleeping. Councils and their local partners can now apply for a share of £105 million to cover property costs and support new tenancies for the 15,000 vulnerable people who were provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic. This includes people coming in directly from the streets, people previously housed in shared night shelters and people who have become vulnerable to rough sleeping during the pandemic. The deadline for bids is 20 August.

Mr Stride said:

"The support provided to rough sleepers during the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the silver linings of this crisis with more than 90% of rough sleepers known to councils at the beginning of the pandemic offered accommodation. Many of these people are now beginning to turn their lives around and the Next Steps Accommodation Programme is vital to ensuring progress continues to be made. I urge local councils in my constituency and across our country to apply for a share of the £105 million available."

Government figures published in February estimated that 4,266 people in England are sleeping rough on a 'typical' night and data from councils suggests around 25,000 people are sleeping rough at least once a year. Mr Stride has previously spoken out about the impact of prison releases on rough sleeping after spending time with prisoners during a rehabilitation programme at HMP Channing's Wood in Teignbridge. Many prisoners he met had been inside many times because on release they found themselves without proper accommodation and felt they faced a choice of sleeping rough or returning to crime.