Northumberland's alternative bid for helping rough sleepers

Northumberland County Council is seeking Government funding to get long-term rough sleepers off the streets and support them in new accommodation.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 11:00 am
Council chiefs are looking at ways to help rough sleepers in Northumberland.

The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst, announced £700,000 earlier in September to help vulnerable people in the North East who were housed during the pandemic to stay in accommodation.

Northumberland was the only local authority of the 12 in the North East not to receive a share as part of this scheme, which is part of the Government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme, however, the council has said its focus is on a different pot of funding.

Cllr John Riddle, the cabinet member for housing, said: “We didn’t apply for this part of the funding. We have instead asked for funding for a tenancy support worker to work with long-term rough sleepers and to fund the refurbishment and furnishing of properties to accommodate them.

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“We have requested £36,000 to carry out the works on the properties and £31,000 every year for the next three years to pay for the tenancy support worker.

“The scheme we are proposing is long-term accommodation with intensive support, making best use of council stock by bringing three one-bedroom properties back into use.

“The properties will be refurbished and furnished for our entrenched rough sleepers, who have been identified through our rough sleeping action group, and will be refurbished to the same standard as all others in the council’s housing stock.”

As part of September’s announcement, the Government confirmed that applications are now being considered for a further £161million intended to provide over 3,300 additional supported homes this year for those sleeping rough or currently housed in emergency accommodation, with successful bids will be announced in due course.

Explaining the county’s proposals further, Cllr Riddle added: “The clients will be given intensive support to succeed in their tenancy and having a secure home.

“We intend to recruit a tenancy support worker who will provide intensive support to the rough sleepers accommodated in this scheme.

“Our primary objective is to improve the life chances and opportunities to live independently for those whose lives are affected by homelessness, substance misuse, offending and mental ill health.

“By providing tailored support to this cohort, the incidence of repeat homelessness, rough sleeping and disengagement from services should reduce, alongside reducing reliance upon acute and emergency provision, and improving outcomes for health and criminal justice partners.”

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