Southwark Council has announced it has gained an extra half million in government funding to prevent rough sleeping.
The council, which is the largest local authority social landlord in London, was the only authority to fully pilot new legislation – the Homelessness Reduction Act – before it came into force in April 2018, and describes itself as a ‘trailblazer’ in its approach to preventing rough sleeping.
Southwark has already been awarded £690,000 to launch and manage the London Training Academy, which will train more than 1,000 staff from all 33 London councils – including 25 Southwark staff – on preventing homelessness.
In June, it announced a £615,000 fund from the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative Grant use the money to provide extra bed and breakfast places, police officers, nurses and outreach workers – including those specialising in domestic abuse – to tackle rough sleeping.
It was also awarded £100,000 to train up other frontline staff around the country – in London, Liverpool and Birmingham.
On Wednesday, September 5, the council announced has been granted an extra £587,500 for it to spend on this service.
Councillor Stephanie Cryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We are grateful for any extra funding for our service, we will not rest on our laurels in our ambition to prevent homelessness, and our innovation is what has made Southwark stand out.
“We have been submitting bids of the highest quality in order to ask for more funding for this vital service.
“However, while we are at the forefront of homelessness prevention, the key word is indeed ‘prevention’ – the Government needs to dig deeper in to the causes of homelessness – particularly welfare reform and the lack of affordable housing.
“An exemplary service like ours requires secure, long-term funding to cope with the level of demand and, crucially, those underlying issues which cause homelessness to be addressed.
“With the use of foodbanks increasing exponentially as people move on to Universal Credit and renting becoming too expensive for many, it’s easy to see how people falling on hard times can become vulnerable to losing their homes too.”
The council’s approach has seen it work with charities Shelter and St Mungo’s.
It says it has stopped using bed and breakfast accommodation for families in need by preventing homelessness from happening in the first case, by using more appropriate accommodation further afield.
The council is also working with charities Solace and Women’s Aid to support people affected by domestic abuse.