Rishi Sunak welcomes extra Government support to help prevent homelessness

Rishi Sunak has welcomed a Government cash injection to prevent homelessness and rough sleeping in his Richmond constituency.

The local authorities covering the area have been allocated more than £200,000 to support people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.

Richmondshire District Council will receive £111,000 in 2020/21 and Hambleton District Council will receive £88,000.

Councils can use the funding to employ specialists to provide practical advice to vulnerable people to help ensure they are meeting their rent payments, as well as helping them to find long-term stable accommodation.

Mr Sunak said: “This funding is going to help our councils provide better support to homeless people, and most importantly, prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

”Happily, we do not a major problem with homelessness in our area but one homeless household is one too many. It is vital that local housing authorities are given the power and resources to tackle issues individuals and families might find themselves in before they are faced with the prospect of moving into temporary accommodation.”

Mr Sunak said the money – part of a £260m nationwide fund announced by the Prime Minister just before Christmas – would help the two councils meet their obligations under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades.

The Act – which became law in 2018 when Mr Sunak was Local Government Minister and part of the departmental team responsible for its introduction – ensures that local authorities take “all reasonable steps” to prevent homelessness.

Local authorities now have a legal duty to provide meaningful support, to provide expert advice and information on how to prevent homelessness to meet the needs of groups most at risk, such care leavers, armed forces veterans, domestic abuse survivors and people living with ill mental health.

The latest available figures for homelessness in the area show that in the period between April and June 2019, 68 households in the Hambleton district (which also covers part of the neighbouring constituency of Thirsk and Malton) were assessed as being need of help as result of being homeless or because they faced the threat of being made homeless. In Richmondshire the equivalent figure was 59 households.

“Compared to other parts of the UK we do not have large numbers of people without a home but one household facing this issue is one household too many,” Mr Sunak said.

He added that the two councils had made steady progress in reducing homelessness over the last decade and he looked forward to that continuing with the aid of the new legislation and the additional resources to fulfil their obligations.