I know readers are concerned about homelessness in our towns. That’s why I am working so hard within government to make sure tackling homelessness and rough sleeping is at the heart of our work.
It’s helped kick start a new housing programme in Hastings, where homeless people with the most complex needs are helped into housing.
And not just that, it is part of our wider efforts to eradicate homelessness and rough sleeping.
These efforts mean that the number of homeless people on Hastings is nearly half of what it was during the last Government.
And I am pleased that the total number of people declared as homeless in Hastings has stopped increasing in the last year.
But despite this progress, there is more that needs to be done to support our most vulnerable residents. For example we’ve said we want to eliminate rough sleeping within the coming years.
To do this in the best possible way we are spending £1.2 billion which is money provided to our local authorities and our new laws require local councils to provide early support to people at risk of becoming homeless.
Councils also have more support. For example funding for dealing with homelessness in Hastings has dramatically increased in the past few years and it has been higher every single year than it was since 2010.
In fact, total funding for homelessness received by Hastings Borough Council under this Government is five times greater than it was since 2010.
Funding to tackle homelessness also increased from £231,000 in 2016 to more than £1 million in 2017, then rose to a further £1.8 million in 2018.
Hastings is a also a ‘Rough Sleeping Initiative’ area, which means that we had access to £644,000 last year and will have access to £814,110 this year. The funding is clearly being provided, but it is up to our local authorities on how they choose to spend it.
As the minister in charge of the Department for Work and Pensions, I have been working to improve Universal Credit. This includes direct payments to landlords so that our most vulnerable do not find themselves without a safe place to live. I encourage anyone who needs this to ask for it. This Government is making good progress in giving councils the tools they need to find homes for our homeless, but I hope that going forwards, Hastings Borough Council will make the most out of this funding and help deliver the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by 2027.
There is clearly still much more to do, but the Government has taken the steps to ensure the right support is provided for those who need it, now our Council must take advantage.