The government faced calls from homelessness charities to kickstart its Everyone In initiative once again, which was a scheme introduced for homeless people and rough sleepers with the coronavirus pandemic first hit.
The scheme ended in May and was not reintroduced again until now, as temperatures around England continue to drop.
A statement from the government said: “Backed by an additional £10 million in funding, all councils in England are being asked to redouble their efforts to help accommodate all those currently sleeping rough and ensure they are swiftly registered with a GP, where they are not already.”
Protections for rough sleepers and vulnerable renters
The government has announced extra support aimed at housing rough sleepers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ban on bailiff enforced evictions has also been extended.
Communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: “At the start of this pandemic we made sure that the most vulnerable in society were protected. This winter, we are continuing in this vein and redoubling our efforts to help those most in need.
“Our ongoing Everyone In initiative is widely regarded as one of the most successful of its kind in the world, ensuring 33,000 people are safe in accommodation. We are now going further and focusing on GP registration of rough sleepers.
“We are also extending the ban on bailiff evictions - helping to protect the most vulnerable renters.”
The ban on these evictions extend to all but the most egregious cases for at least six weeks, until at least 21 February, with measures kept under review.
‘This will save lives’
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “These renewed efforts to protect people who are homeless in the pandemic will save lives.
“It was truly a landmark moment when, back in March, everyone on the streets was offered somewhere safe to stay. It’s as important, if not more so, that today we see government leadership to protect all those sleeping rough.
“The highly infectious new strain of coronavirus alongside the cold weather made this the most dangerous moment of the pandemic for those without a home.”
Steve Dougal, chief executive of St Mungo’s, added: “We and other homelessness charities called on the government to provide an urgent and decisive response to support those sleeping rough who now face the double threat of severely cold weather and a continued health emergency.
“We welcome this response and will work with our local authority and health partners to provide both the immediate accomodation and the health care advice that is needed to protect lives.”