Opportunity to eradicate rough sleeping must not be lost warns Enfield Council Cabinet Member

Enfield Council is urging the Government to provide funding to support rough sleepers into settled accommodation.

Efforts to support rough sleepers during the coronavirus lockdown should be built on as part of a wider strategy to eradicate the problem says Enfield Council.  The local authority has housed and supported rough sleepers in emergency accommodation while the borough is in the grip of COVID-19.

But the Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Housing, Cllr Gina Needs has said that efforts to get rough sleepers the help they need are doomed to failure if the government does not provide the funds Councils need to support them into accommodation.

Enfield Council has received just £17.9m to contribute to what is estimated to be a full year cost of £68m in lost income and additional costs.  Given this position the Council must have the costs it has incurred to support rough sleepers fully meet by central government.

Despite having to make £178 million savings in the last 10 years because of Government budget cuts and increasing pressures on services, Enfield Council has stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic, providing comprehensive community and business support and essential services to protect local people and businesses.

Failure to provide the funding it needs means the Council may need to cut vital services and could reduce the Council’s ability to respond effectively to future emergencies and support local communities.

Enfield Council wants the Government to fulfil its promise ‘to stand shoulder to shoulder with local government’ and provide funding to fully cover all of the costs and future pressures we have incurred in dealing with COVID-19.  The most vulnerable in our community must be protected.

Cllr Gina Needs said: “We have a unique opportunity to intervene in the lives of our rough sleepers and get them into permanent accommodation, drug and alcohol treatment services and jobs and training but that is entirely dependent on government providing the funding.

“The Government should not want rough sleepers to walk out of the safe, warm and secure accommodation they are currently in, to return to their old lives on the streets.”

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