Rough sleeping is a complex and multi-faceted problem and there is, of course, no silver bullet solution. The issue can only be solved sustainably if its root causes are properly tackled.
To end rough sleeping, we must therefore not only provide the accommodation required, but also ensure that people are: helped to tackle addiction, supported into employment, provided with proper access to healthcare and that issues relating to family breakdown are addressed.
Furthermore, to have the truly transformative effect required, it is vital that various partners including: central government, local authorities and expert charities work effectively together to provide that wrap around support.
I am pleased that here in Maidstone we have a shining example of exactly that kind of root cause focussed, partnership working with Maidstone Borough Council’s Rough Sleeping Initiative. The programme has made remarkable progress in recent years, reducing street homelessness in our borough by a staggering 90% between the Autumns of 2018 and 2019.
They have achieved this by combining central government funding and local government leadership with the expertise of local charities. However, their work is not yet complete; and the project continues to support many individuals with complex needs.
Following a visit to the inspiring project last summer, I therefore wrote to my colleagues in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to outline the success of the programme and to ask them to ensure that it continues to receive funding beyond March of this year. I am delighted that, in the last week, the Government have confirmed that as part of an additional £112 million to be invested in tackling rough sleeping in the next financial year, Maidstone will receive an extra £375,750.
I very much hope this money will allow Maidstone’s Rough Sleeping Initiative to continue the excellent work they have started, but should they require any further support from Government I stand ready to help in any way I can.