London Councils has welcomed the government’s launch of the Protect and Vaccinate scheme for people who are homeless and sleeping rough.
Focused on helping rough sleepers to receive their Covid-19 vaccines and to move into safe accommodation over winter, the scheme brings £28 million of additional funding for local authorities across England providing frontline support.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:
“Rising Covid rates and cold winter weather make an extremely dangerous combination for London’s rough sleepers, which is why this announcement and extra funding from the government is so important.
“Boroughs are working tirelessly to keep homeless Londoners safe, especially in the face of the threat posed by the new Omicron variant. This funding boost will support frontline work getting rough sleepers vaccinated and into emergency accommodation, which is vital for their individual safety and for tackling the spread of the virus in the capital.
“Alongside our partners in the government, at City Hall, and in the voluntary sector, boroughs will do everything we can to make this scheme a success.”
London has the highest homelessness figures in the country but made rapid progress bringing rough sleepers off the streets following the launch of the government’s ‘Everyone In’ directive in March 2020. Thanks to highly effective partnership work and a considerable increase in resources from the government, 6,000 rough sleepers were housed by London local authorities and the GLA in emergency accommodation at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thousands of these former rough sleepers have since been supported into settled accommodation but there are still 2,000 in emergency accommodation, around half of whom have uncertain entitlements related to their immigration status. Data from the boroughs indicates on any given night there are around 650 rough sleepers on London’s streets.