More than 90% of rough sleepers have been housed during pandemic – minister

More than 90% of rough sleepers known to councils have now been housed to protect them against coronavirus, the Government has said.

Speaking at the coronavirus briefing on Saturday, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said more than 5,400 homeless people were offered safe accommodation in April.

Mr Jenrick said Dame Louise Casey, who is already spearheading the Government’s response on rough sleeping, has been appointed to oversee a new national taskforce for the issue.

The taskforce aims to ensure the rough sleepers living in temporary housing can access physical and mental health support during the pandemic, and will work with councils to provide long-term accommodation for them after the crisis is over.

Two funding packages of £3.2 million each have been invested in councils to allow them to do this, the Government has said.

Dame Louise said: “The storm of Covid-19 has affected us all in many, varied and sometimes deeply tragic ways – we know that it is a virus that does not discriminate.

“Due to the incredible efforts by people in local councils, charities, hotel staff and the public, many rough sleepers have been brought in and off the streets.”

She added there is “much still to do” and helping secure a safe future for the recently housed people will require “a huge national effort”.