Reading Borough Council (RBC) will get a boost of more than £750,000 to support rough sleepers in the town.

The council will receive a £761,241 share of a £91.5 million government funding pot aimed at preventing people from returning to the streets.

In Reading, more than 160 rough sleepers or people at risk of rough sleeping have been temporarily rehoused since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the government asking councils to accommodate all rough sleepers.

Councillor John Ennis, Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) lead member for Housing, said: “We are pleased to have been successful in obtaining over £750,000 as a contribution to accommodation and support costs to rough sleepers.

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“This will enable us to reduce the pressure on our budgets for this client group and extend current emergency accommodation for people sleeping rough or at risk of rough sleeping housed under Reading’s ‘Everyone In’ Covid-19 emergency response.

“We are still awaiting the outcome of our funding bid for longer term accommodation and support”.

West Berkshire Council and Wokingham Borough Council will receive £184,000, and £204,000 respectively.

The short-term funding is part of the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme (NSAP) and can go towards actions including:

  • Moving people into the private rented sector
  • Extending or finding interim accommodation such as hotels or student accommodation
  • Supporting individuals to reconnect with friends or family

The funds must be used in the 2020/21 financial year.

The government is currently assessing council bids in the second round of NSAP funding, which aims to house people permanently.

There is a larger pot – £161 million – and this funding is for 3,300 units of “longer-term move-on” accommodation in 2020/21.

What the council has done so far to re-house rough sleepers

So far, 54 people have been moved out of B&Bs into alternative accommodation but there are still 106 people in emergency accommodation.

While RBC does not have any statutory obligation to house these people under homelessness legislation, the council is expected to support and accommodate them and says it is not financially sustainable to keep people in B&Bs.

Approximately 39 of the 106 people in B&Bs have no recourse to public funds.

The council says options for this group are limited, and it is working with local partners and the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to find a sustainable accommodation offer for this group.

This would include returning them to an area where they have a connection, where desired, and supporting individuals to get settled status to allow them to be eligible for public funds.

For the other 67, RBC has been working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Homes England to look at sustainable support and accommodation options.

The council agreed plans in August to rehouse rough sleepers in 40 temporary pods at Cattle Market Car Park.

They will have 24-hour support on site and the council says this will meet the needs of a large majority of the 67.

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