Cash boost for rough sleeping action plan

Rough sleepers in London, where Mayor Boris Johnson has piloted the 'No Second Night Out' scheme. Local housing authorities are obliged to provide emergency housing for "priority need" groups

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The government has pledged an extra £3.5m to help those in danger of becoming homeless and to provide shelter to those sleeping rough.

Councils and charities will be encouraged to identify those at risk and to step in to support them.

The 'No Second Night Out' scheme, which provides temporary housing, will be expanded to eight more areas.

But homeless charity Crisis has said the announcement lacks detail and represents a "missed opportunity".

Recent figures suggested homelessness had risen 25% in the previous year, but ministers questioned their accuracy.

The new cross-government initiative is set out in a report called 'Making Every Contact Count'.

A pilot scheme operating in London, in which members of the public report people seen sleeping rough locally and they are offered temporary accommodation, will be expanded.

Championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, the 'No Second Night Out' scheme will be extended to Manchester, Plymouth, Great Yarmouth, North Devon, Taunton, Gloucestershire, Chichester and Worcestershire.

The additional money will go to 21 housing charities that offer advice and shelter for rough sleepers.

Two new 'nightstop' centres will be opened, accommodating young people until they find somewhere to live.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said the new funding would "ensure this country's strong safety net of support for those without a roof over their heads remains a last resort".

He added: "Every single contact these vulnerable people have with our public services - from council drop-ins to healthcare visits - should be made to count, turning prevention into the cure for anyone facing the real and frightening prospect of sleeping on the streets."

Chief executive of Crisis Leslie Morphy called the Making Every Contact Count report "a disappointment and a missed opportunity".

Ms Morphy warned: "It contains some worthy ambitions but lacks detail about how they will be delivered and fails to tackle the key issues. As the government's own statistics make clear, homelessness and evictions are continuing to rise yet new house-building is falling."

Labour also criticised the government's record.

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey said: "The Tory-led government is so out of touch that today's document outlining 'progress' made fails to acknowledge that homelessness and rough sleeping have both risen rapidly on their watch."

A recent report by data company SSentif suggested homelessness had risen 25% in the previous year, but ministers questioned these figures.

Local housing authorities are already obliged to provide emergency housing for "priority need" groups without a home, such as households with dependent children.

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