Council agrees rough sleepers COVID-19 recovery plan

Release Date: 09 September 2020

An action plan to help rough sleepers avoid returning to the streets as COVID-19 lockdown continues to be eased, has been approved by Richmond Council.

The programme follows work that has seen 75 rough sleepers accommodated so far during the pandemic.

Cllr Liz Jaeger, Lead Member for Housing, for Richmond Council, said:

“One of the few good things about COVID-19 is that it has given the impetus, and funding, to get all our rough sleepers in off the streets. Decently accommodated, there is then the space to really work with people to change things for the better.

“The Council has taken a multi-agency approach and is offering ongoing support for health issues, employment, further education, immigration and benefit advice to help individuals turn their lives around - a tailored and personalised approach.

“It isn’t a quick fix. Some people decline our help and support. But, where they want and need our help – we work with our key partners such as SPEAR to help.”

The plan, which was discussed by the Adult, Social Services, Health and Housing Committee last night (8 September), meets the Council’s and the Government’s ambition that no rough sleeper will become homeless again without an offer of accommodation and support.

Council housing teams will continue to formally assess all rough sleepers accommodated to establish what support they will need in the future.

Under the plan those eligible will be offered social housing or accommodated in private sector properties identified by the Council’s access officers.

The Council is also reaching out to landlords with self-contained studio or one-bed flats to let who are very welcome to contact our officer Lisa or call 020 8817 5124 / 07866 154 016.

Ongoing costs for accommodating rough sleepers are around £22,000 a week. This is funded from the Government grant given to the Council to support the pandemic response. Up to a further £125,000 from the Council’s Discretionary Housing Payments budget is allocated to help rehouse rough sleepers into sustainable tenancies over the next six months.

The Council has bid for significant additional funding from both Government and the Greater London Authority and we expect to know the outcome of these bids in the next few weeks. The Council has also been allocated a further £100,000 up to 31 December 2020 to support rough sleepers from the EU/EEA who do not have access to benefits.

The Council will work with both the Citizens Advice Richmond and with the South London Law Centre to carry out detailed individual assessments, including the possibility of securing settled status for EU nationals.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159.

Reference: P357/20

Updated: 30 September 2020