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Time for government to help end rough sleeping for good

May 29, 2020 4:00 PM
Originally published by Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats

Dean CroftsResponding to the news that £53million nationally will be provided to support services to help rough sleepers in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to build on that announcement and help bring rough sleeping to an end in Bedford Borough and across the country.

Commenting, Bedford Borough Liberal Democrat Councillor Dean Crofts said "The Government has been forced by COVID-19 to take long-overdue urgent action to tackle rough sleeping, and has supported local partnerships such as ours here in Bedford Borough to get people off the streets. It is crucial now that we do not return to what had become the status quo across the country, and instead actually take steps to end rough sleeping for good. That means providing the resources to enable safe, secure accommodation to be provided for all those at risk of sleeping rough into the long term, not just through the current crisis. This must include ongoing support for those in emergency accommodation. The government itself has highlighted the scale of the problem, hailing the fact that 15,000 rough sleepers have been helped off the streets in the pandemic, while also only announcing just 6,000 possible new homes on an ongoing basis for rough sleepers. Meanwhile, the Government must urgently pass legislation to scrap the Dickensian Vagrancy Act, which unfairly penalises people for sleeping rough. We need to be helping people to get off the streets and stay off the streets, not punishing them."

The government's own announcements this week, such as here, highlight the disparity between 6,000 homes for rough sleepers and the 15,000 rough sleepers who have been helped off the streets during the pandemic.