Thousands of agents around the UK every year raise funds for homeless charities such as Crisis, LandAid, Shelter, St Mungo’s and Centrepoint, making it the most popular charity sector that agents choose to support.
But the new junior Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler, who heads the government’s effort to end homelessness in the UK, has promised to resign if the plight of England’s estimated 4,750 rough sleepers does not improve after reaching record levels.
Rough sleeping in the UK has increased for seven years in a row and the number increased last year by 15% when compared to 2016. Figures show there are 170% more rough sleepers than in 2010.
The minister made her resignation claim when answering a question during BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme broadcast last night during which – when asked what she’d do if homelessness worsened on her watch – she said “well there are two answers to that – “a) it won’t and b) I’d resign.
Within a year?
Asked whether she had a timeline, the minister said she had a year but that “in truth it was a very long term project”.
PM Theresa May recently claimed she would eliminate the problem within a decade and Heather Wheeler has the job of implementing the £28m scheme introduced to help achieve that, called Housing First.
After being contacted by outreach workers, rough sleepers are offered supported homes and then, when they are ready, a home of their own.
The issue of homelessness has been at the top of the political agenda recently after Storm Emma blew into the UK, driving up the number of rough sleepers seeking emergency accommodation. One rough sleeper in Nottinghamshire was reported to have died.
The boroughs with the highest number of rough sleepers are Westminster, Brighton & Hove, Camden, Manchester, Luton, Bristol, Bedford, Newham, Southend-on-Sea and Cornwall.