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Councils given grants to tackle rough sleeping




West Suffolk and Mid Suffolk councils have welcomed government funding to help keep the most vulnerable off their streets this winter.

Both received some of the £5.83 million shared between 40 authorities in the East of England as part of the government’s Next Steps Accommodation Programme, aimed at ending rough sleeping.

West Suffolk Council was granted £174,000 to assist its ongoing work in reducing the number of rough sleepers in its district through help and support.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White with some of West Suffolk Council's rough sleeper team in January 2020.
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White with some of West Suffolk Council's rough sleeper team in January 2020.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk cabinet member for housing, said: “Over a number of years, the council has been making great strides in helping people away from rough sleeping through support and accommodation.

“Prior to this pandemic, we had seen the number of people rough sleeping in West Suffolk reduce from 36 in September 2018, when our Rough Sleeper Outreach Team was first formed, to eight in January 2020.

“We are working not just to further reduce rough sleeping, but also to prevent rough sleeping from reoccurring and this funding will help towards that work.”

The council currently has 111 households in temporary accommodation including people who had previously been rough sleeping and since lockdown in March it has helped more than 400 households by providing housing advice and support.

As well as making use of bed and breakfast and temporary accommodation, the council put in 15 temporary cabins for a six-month period from the beginning of July to help prevent rough sleepers returning to the streets.

This new grant will go towards the cost of the cabins, hotel and support costs and the council hopes further bids for funding for the following three years will help it sustain its long term plans to tackle the issue.

Mid Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Julie Flatman, praised its housing solution team for its work in securing its £100,000 grant.

She said: “This is fantastic news and a real achievement. This additional funding will go some way to reduce the financial burden on public money and ensure that our residents have a safe and secure place to sleep during the winter nights.”

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