THOUSANDS of pounds of public money should be spent on funding an outreach worker to combat homelessness in a town, say councillors.
The Liberal Democrat group on Fareham Borough Council is pushing for the local authority to dedicate £9,000 a year to fund a worker from homelessness charity Two Saints.
They would work with and seek to provide support to those sleeping rough and needing help in Fareham’s town centre.
Councillors Roger Price, the group’s leader, and Shaun Cunningham addressed the council’s executive at a meeting where they said more needed to be done in order to tackle ‘a growing number’ of rough sleepers.
Two Saints funds one outreach worker in Fareham and Gosport for one day a week, but the Lib Dems would want this increased in Fareham for an extra day.
Councillor Price said: ‘The Two Saints worker already works with the homeless for one day a week in Fareham and by us funding a second day, this would be a major step forward.’
Councillor Sean Woodward, the council’s leader questioned the desire for one specific charity to be allocated extra funds.
He said: ‘Two Saints is not the only group that deals with homeless people, and there are people who come to Fareham and pose as homeless people as they know people here give generously, so it is always difficult to know what the right figure is.’
He added that he had ‘great sympathy’ for people that become homeless but pointed to the council spending £364,700 on tackling homelessness each year.
It was revealed in the meeting that were previously a total of 18 people classed as homeless in the town centre, eight of whom have accepted support from charities. Six have rejected the offer of support, two are in prison, one is in private accommodation and one has left.
Cllr Cunningham added said: ‘Fareham’s homeless figure is small but is on the rise and I’m alerted to this by residents who say that they are noticing an increase of homeless people in the town centre.’
It was decided that the proposal could be funded if the council’s health and housing policy development and review panel said it was needed.
James McDermott, regional director of Two Saints said Hampshire County Council provides funds to help the charity but that it would welcome ‘additional support’ from Fareham.
Mr McDermott said: ‘We work closely with colleagues at Fareham Borough Council to support rough sleepers in the area and we would welcome any additional support to increase this service.’