The government has written to local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, and those in hostels and night shelters, by the weekend.
In a letter sent to homelessness managers and rough-sleeping coordinators in every local authority yesterday, the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government said: “As you know, this is a public health emergency. We are all redoubling our efforts to do what we possibly can at this stage to ensure that everybody is inside and safe by this weekend, and we stand with you in this.
“These are unusual times, so I’m asking for an unusual effort. Many areas of the country have already been able to ‘safe harbour’ their people, which is incredible. What we need to do now though is work out how we can get ‘everyone in’.”
The move comes amid growing pressure from homeless charities to do more for rough sleepers.
Previously, the government had provided £3.2m in funding, which groups said was not enough to deal with the impact Coronavirus would have on homeless people.
Extra funding was soon announced, but the homelessness sector was still calling for government to provide them with “clear guidance”.
Responding to this news, Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “The government’s insistence that everyone sleeping rough should be housed by the weekend is a landmark moment – and the right thing to do.
“The government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2025 – this proves it can be done in 2020 if we make it the priority it deserves to be.”