Rough sleepers in Portsmouth to benefit from almost £400,000 of government money

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ROUGH sleepers in Portsmouth will benefit from almost £400,000 of government money, it has been revealed.

As part of a £30m nationwide push to eradicate homelessness, Portsmouth City Council will receive a cash boost of £384,000.

Already councillors have said the funds will be used to extend the support available at the night bed service and cover longer opening hours for the day service, which focuses on health and employment needs.

Currently Portsmouth City Council supplies 45 night beds available with figures from 2017 showing that there were 42 rough sleepers in the city.

Cllr Darren Sanders, the council’s housing boss, said: ‘It is fantastic news. What we are trying to do is continue to enhance the service we are providing. The council administration is keen that we treat people who happen to be homeless as individuals, not just as a unit.

‘We are also trying to recognise that there’s a difference between the homeless and professional street beggars.

‘One of the key things is to make sure we can get people who are homeless back on their feet. This includes providing employment advice.’

However, Cllr Sanders was aware that more hostel beds would also be necessary.

He added: ‘I am very keen to see more hostel spaces. But we want to work with these people rather than talking to them about what we want to do.

‘I am going to sit down and work with the team to make sure we provide the best services possible.

‘This is about finding a longer-term solution.’

Funding to combat rough sleeping will be given to 83 local authorities across the country, each receiving different amounts depending on their needs.

Chief executive of homeless charity St Mungo’s, Howard Sinclair, admitted this was only the start of a relief campaign nationwide.

‘While this money is a welcome first step, we hope that the government will provide sufficient funding alongside its forthcoming rough sleeping strategy to achieve the Prime Minister’s goal of halving rough sleeping in this parliament and ending it within 10 years,’ he said.

Camden Council will receive the highest amount, £870,000, for an expansion of their outreach team to deliver targeted street interventions as well as new staff to support rough sleepers to keep their own accommodation.

Southampton City Council will gain £300,000 from the scheme and Brighton and Hove City Council will be awarded almost £500,000.