Millions in cash intended to help rough sleepers through winter has gone unspent

Millions of pounds intended to help rough sleepers stay safe during the winter has gone unspent, a minister has admitted.

The Housing department manages the £10m Cold Weather Fund and the £15m Protect Programme, which supports efforts to provide accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic.

But with winter drawing to a close, Housing Minister Eddie Hughes admitted around £4 million between the two funds is still unallocated

Replying to a question from Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary Thangam Debbonaire, Mr Hughes said: “We have confirmed allocations totalling £9 million to local authorities via the Cold Weather Fund, which is available to all local authorities.

“The Protect Programme has allocated £12 million to local authorities who need it most.”

The Housing Minister admitted around £5 million was yet to be allocated

The figure leaves £1m unspent in the Cold Weather Fund and £3m from the Protect Programme.

Mr Hughes added: “Our expert rough sleeping advisers continue to work closely with all local authorities to support their work to protect rough sleepers.”

Ms Debbonaire said: “This winter has been cold and extremely dangerous for anyone forced to spend it on the street.

“The Government promised to bring ‘everyone in’ but we now know that at least 2 600 people were sleeping rough at the height of the pandemic. This is a failure of Government.

“Many of these people could have been helped by funding that was available, yet government incompetence prevented it from being used. This news will feel like a slap in the face to thousands who have been forced to sleep outside this winter.”

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A Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) spokesperson said it was “wrong and misleading” to say the money had gone unspent.

They added: “The £15m Protect Programme and £10m Cold Weather Fund were allocated based on bids from councils, which took into account their local needs and ensured value for money.”



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