Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince has today (13th January) announced a new £3m fund to help support homeless people across the UK.
The funding comes in a latest bid to allow jobcentre staff to engage with rough sleepers actively rather than just focusing on those who are already seeking help.
Teams of employees will form outreach groups that will serve to strengthen projects already connected with jobcentres, as well as programmes run by local charities, like Crisis, the Salvation Army and Teardrops.
Staff will be able to spend more time working with charities and other organisations to help those on the streets to claim benefits, find new work, secure accommodation as well as directing them to additional support.
The work will also build on the support already available from jobcentres for homeless people which includes:
- Helping verify their ID to set up claims for benefits
- Assisting with opening bank accounts
- Pausing requirements to look for work while they find stable housing
- Making regular payments to help pay for housing
- Signposting to drug, alcohol and other support services
Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said: “We are determined to help anyone experiencing homelessness, and if this means getting staff out of the jobcentre to speak to people on the street directly then we will do that.
“There’s a huge amount of support available to help people who are homeless, but they often don’t know about the support they can access.
“So we’re going out and taking the help to them, through outreach programmes and closer working with homelessness charities.”
However, the latest initiative failed to escape scrutiny from homeless charities – with Crisis CEO, Jon Sparkes adding that it is the Universal Credit benefits system makes it more difficult for homeless people, or those under threat of homelessness, to claim vital support.
“The only way to end homelessness is to tackle the root causes by urgent investment in housing benefit and in building affordable housing”, he said.
“Without these people will continue to have to choose between food and rent and end up being forced into homelessness.”
“[Universal Credit] is paid a month in arrears meaning if people experiencing homelessness need financial support in the first month they have to pay it back,” Sparkes explains.
“People also need to have a bank account and be able to use a computer. Those who already have somewhere to live and are not used to paying rent from a monthly budget are getting behind on their rent. We are worried about this leading to eviction and homelessness”, he added.
The announcement also comes amid government figures released in December which showed that households in England who have become newly homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless have increased by 11.4% in the last year alone.
Minister for Homelessness, Luke Hall added: “As Minister for Homelessness, it’s my priority to ensure that we reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping.
“And while our interventions are working there is still more to do. Today’s announcement will mean homeless people get the support they need to get back on their feet and find new work.”
Speaking at a recent LGA Finance conference, Hall said that he will “work tirelessly” to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.