With an impending second lockdown in England, homelessness charities and councillors have urged the government to reinstate the Everyone In scheme that was introduced during the initial national lockdown.
Around 15,000 homeless people were provided emergency accommodation in hotels in March and April this year as part of the Everyone In policy.
According to one study, the scheme saved the lives of an estimated 266 people.
“With a new lockdown imminent, the UK government must bring ‘Everyone In’ back in England with ring-fenced funding for local councils to provide COVID-safe accommodation for anyone experiencing or at risk of rough sleeping,” said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis.
The call was echoed by Chris Wood, Shelter’s assistant director of research, who said there must be clear guidance this time round.
“No one should fall through the cracks this winter,” he said.
When prime minister Boris Johnson announced the “tougher national restrictions” during a Downing Street briefing on Saturday evening (31 Oct), no details of additional support for rough sleepers were offered – or requested in question from the press and public.
Tom Copley, London’s deputy mayor for housing, said: “This is the crucial question which as of tonight we have no answer to – rough sleepers are particularly vulnerable to COVID.
“Everyone In, pioneered in London, was world leading and resulted in very low COVID infection rates amongst homeless people here.
“Now we need Everyone In 2.”
Copley called on ministers to set out very quickly what additional funding they would provide to rough sleepers with COVID-safe accommodation – as they were during the first lockdown.
Keiron Williams, leader of Southwark Council, added: “To stay at home you have to have a home, yet the government is completely silent on support for rough sleepers during this lockdown.”
Williams also called on the government to suspend its no recourse to public funds rules, which prevent people accessing social security and welfare because of their immigration status.
Last month, doctors signed a letter warning that rough sleepers in the UK would die without a repeat of the “everyone in” policy adopted in March and April.
Homeless people faced a dilemma between staying outside or squeezing into crowded shelters where COVID protection measures will be limited, the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of General Practitioners said.
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