Funds to help get home­less off the streets

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS - Amanda Cameron Se­nior re­porter @Aman­das­cameron | 01225 322204 amanda.cameron@reach­plc.com

Peo­ple sleep­ing rough in Bath and North East Som­er­set are get­ting ex­tra help to get off the streets thanks to new Gov­ern­ment cash. But one lo­cal coun­cil­lor fears the coun­cil could be left to foot the bill when the ex­tra money runs out and said it should be used to help lo­cal peo­ple, not out­siders. The lo­cal au­thor­ity has won £680,000 of new Gov­ern­ment fund­ing to as­sist the dozens who sleep in the district’s streets, parks and car parks each night. The fund­ing made avail­able un­der the gov­ern­ment’s Rough Sleeper Strat­egy will al­low B&NES Coun­cil to pro­vide a range of ex­tra ser­vices for the district’s rough sleep­ers at least un­til the money runs out in 18 months’ time. Those ser­vices in­clude 20 ex­tra beds at Bath’s home­less shel­ter Ju­lian House over win­ter, ad­di­tional men­tal health sup­port on the streets, help at the point of hos­pi­tal dis­charge, rent in ad­vance to take ad­van­tage of te­nancy op­por­tu­ni­ties, and sup­port to keep ten­an­cies. The coun­cil is “very con­fi­dent” the ini­tia­tive will see rough sleeper num­bers fall this win­ter, mem­bers of its plan­ning, hous­ing and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pol­icy de­vel­op­ment and scru­tiny panel heard on Tues­day. But panel mem­ber and Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lor for Mid­somer Nor­ton North, Barry Macrae, said he was wor­ried the coun­cil would be even­tu­ally be asked to fund the ini­tia­tive. He was es­pe­cially con­cerned about the pos­si­bil­ity of pay­ing for the third of the es­ti­mated 33 rough sleep­ers in B&NES who are not “lo­cals”. Prais­ing ef­forts to re­con­nect rough sleep­ers from out­side B&NES with their com­mu­ni­ties, he said: “Bril­liant, send them back to where they came from; look af­ter the peo­ple that are here that have got is­sues that need look­ing af­ter. “But don’t come to me in two years’ time and say the gov­ern­ment’s stopped the money, can we have some more be­cause we want to help 10 peo­ple who have got noth­ing to do with us,” Mr Macrae told coun­cil of­fi­cers at the meet­ing. “Go stop those 10 from even get­ting here. I’m sorry, you’re do­ing a pos­i­tive job but don’t be­come com­pla­cent to ac­cept it and gold-plate it. Stop it hap­pen­ing. That’s good use of money.” An of­fi­cer said the coun­cil took a hu­man­i­tar­ian ap­proach to rough sleep­ers from out­side the coun­cil area, let­ting them stay at Ju­lian House for one or two nights while pro­vid­ing a “rapid as­sess­ment and re­con­nec­tion ser­vice” to en­cour­age them back to their lo­cal area. “We are try­ing to get up­stream to the pre­vent peo­ple be­com­ing rough sleep­ers. But like it or not some peo­ple are al­ready here,” the panel heard. The money won by the coun­cil in­cludes £320,000 for the six months to the end of March 2019 and an­other £360,000 for the fol­low­ing 12 months. The coun­cil has al­ready had an in­di­ca­tion from the Min­istry of Hous­ing, Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment that the fund­ing could be ex­tended be­yond 18 months.

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