FUNDING from the government for reducing rough sleeping in West Berkshire will likely end next spring. 

West Berkshire Council received £261,820 this year through the government’s rough sleeper initiative, and £211,312 last year. 

The government committed last year to halving rough sleeping by 2022, and ending it by 2027, when it first announced the funding through the initiative.

However, this funding is only until March next year. It is unclear whether any more money will be available for specifically reducing rough sleeping. 

Neil Coles, strategy manager, said: “It is assumed that no further government funding will be available in the future for addressing rough sleeping.” 

Mr Coles made the comment in a report to the executive, which will meet on September 5 to approve the reducing rough sleeping strategy. 

Part of the funding currently pays for a council officer to coordinate reducing homelessness, but again this is only until March next year. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government also gave the council £102,560 to fund two officers to help rough sleepers find accommodation. 

The council estimated there were 11 rough sleepers across West Berkshire at the end of July, fewer than the 18 from the annual rough sleeper count last November. 

A group of charities, housing associations, and those providing homelessness services, were consulted on the council’s strategy earlier this year. 

The strategy has five priorities: providing support and accommodation services, helping entrenched rough sleepers leave the streets, improving their health and wellbeing, preventing people at risk from needing to sleep rough, and tackling negative public perceptions of rough sleeping. 

Part of the strategy includes considering an awareness campaign to ‘educate residents on the risks’ of giving money to people begging, and instead encourage people to donate to agencies who help rough sleepers. 

It will also include consulting with rough sleepers on their concerns about what help is there. Mr Coles said: “There is a poor perception within the rough sleeping community regarding the accommodation options that are available to them.”