Thank you for contacting me about rough sleepers during the outbreak of Covid-19.
I share your concern about people who are sleeping rough during this time. Rough sleepers are some of the most vulnerable people in society and we must do all we can to help them. I am encouraged by the Government’s close work with local authorities to ensure that they deliver on their obligations under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. I am also pleased that the initial £5bn Covid-19 Response Fund will prepare and protect public services during the outbreak of Covid-19.
The Government has made it clear that in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and in doing so protect the NHS and save lives, certain businesses, including retail selling non-essential goods, and other venues must close. Hotels, hostels, and B&Bs going about normal business are included. However, there are exceptions, such as providing accommodation to vulnerable people. It has been made clear that where hotels, hostels, and B&Bs are providing rooms to support homeless people, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies, they should remain open.
I support the Government’s announcement of a £3.2 million investment in an emergency fund to help rough sleepers self-isolate during the outbreak of Covid-19. Under the current plans, the cost to provide accommodation for rough sleepers to self-isolate will be reimbursed to local authorities. This emergency fund is on top of the Government’s plans to eliminate rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament. I welcome an extra £112 million of investment for councils to end rough sleeping, which represents a 30 per cent increase this year on funding to help rough sleepers.
I am encouraged by the Government’s plans to bolster local authorities by creating a taskforce comprised of experts from the local government, public health and social care fields, to help during the Covid-19 outbreak. This taskforce will assess the effectiveness of Local Resilience Forums and assist them where necessary in order to be prepared for a range of scenarios. The expertise of the taskforce will ensure that local authorities have robust plans to help local people and to deal with this pandemic.
Locally, Derby City Council have been working with a local hotel to ensure that people who are rough sleeping are offered accommodation through this difficult time. The accommodation provided to these individuals is of a high standard and ensures that all Public Health England guidance is followed to protect the health and welfare of those who are provided with this temporary accommodation.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.