Celebrating Christmas in a warm and safe environment “is beyond reach” for too many people, the Government has said, pledging to invest £654 million into preventing homelessness over the next two years.
Announcing the funding, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said it will protect tens of thousands of vulnerable people from losing their homes.
Councils across England will receive a share of the Homelessness Prevention Grant of £322.8m for 2023-4 and £331.3m for 2024-5 to help vulnerable families and people at risk of sleeping rough.
The allocations for the next financial year will be available to councils from April.
The funds will be used to provide temporary accommodation, help individuals at risk of becoming homeless pay deposits for new homes, and mediate with landlords to avoid evictions.
It also includes £24 million to help provide temporary accommodation for victims of domestic abuse, and their children.
The funding forms part of the Government’s £2 billion package of support to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over three years, first announced in the spring.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The Government is determined to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness because for too many people, the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in a warm and safe environment is beyond reach.
“We know that words alone are not enough. That is why Government is investing £2 billion over the next three years to give some of the most vulnerable people a roof over their heads, along with targeted support to rebuild their lives.
“Today’s announcement will provide vital support to families who are at risk of rough sleeping, including by providing temporary accommodation and helping with deposits.”
Mr Sunak visited a homeless shelter in London run by the Passage on Friday, praising the “fantastic work” being done to support people at Christmas.
He told Sky News: “Most of us this weekend, this Christmas, will be inside, will be warm, will be safe, will be with our families. But sadly that’s not true for everybody.
“And that’s why the Government’s investing a significant amount to reduce the number of people who are sleeping rough or are homeless.”
Minister for housing and homelessness, Felicity Buchan said: “Everyone should have a safe and secure home. This government is determined to prevent homelessness and to get vulnerable families and individuals the support they need.
“Whether it’s emergency housing, support to pay a deposit, or mediation to prevent eviction, today’s package will provide help to those who need it the most at the discretion of those who know them best.”
Chief executive of the Crisis charity Matt Downie said: “These are desperate times for people struggling with rising rents and rocketing food and energy bills, so funding to ensure that local councils can support people facing homelessness is very welcome.
“But housing affordability remains ones of the biggest drivers of homelessness and the ever-increasing gap between housing benefit and rents continues to be one of the main reasons councils are struggling to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. Our research shows just 12% of properties were affordable to those on housing benefit this year.
“We need a strategic approach that prevents people being pushed to the brink of homelessness in the first place. Only by investing in housing benefit, which has been frozen for three years, so it covers the true cost of rents can we ensure people have the best chance of finding and keeping a safe, affordable home.”