Mayor’s promise to city’s homeless if hotel scheme ends

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Joe Anderson has made a promise to the homeless people in Liverpool after reports that the government was winding up their hotel scheme.

Hundreds of rough sleepers were taken off the streets in March as part of the "Everyone In" programme to help keep them safe from coronavirus.

But on Thursday night it was revealed by the Manchester Evening News that the scheme is now expected to be scrapped – although this has been denied by the government.

A leaked report to the Manchester combined authority reveals the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government had now "drawn a line" under its programme.

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It also reportedly told councils it will no longer be funded, although this has not been officially confirmed.

An MHCLG spokesperson said that the suggestion funding was being withdrawn or people were being asked to leave hotels is "unfounded".

The programme took those without homes, who have nowhere to self-isolate, and put them into hotels at the cost of central government.

Following the report, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson announced that Liverpool would "go the extra mile" for the city's homeless.

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Homeless people will be returned to the street after the government winds down their "Everyone In" scheme

On Twitter, he said: "This government has a track record of making promises, then letting people down and playing games with their health and safety.

"This is just another painful example.

"Liverpool has always gone the extra mile to look after the homeless and we always will."

An MHCLG Spokesperson said: "Any suggestion that the Government is reneging on the commitment set out at the start of this national emergency is entirely wrong. We have been clear councils must continue to provide safe accommodation for those that need it, and any suggestion that funding is being withdrawn or people asked to leave hotelsis unfounded.

“The latest figures show over 90% of rough sleepers known to councils at the beginning of this crisis have now been made offers of safe accommodation and we have announced Dame Louise Casey will spearhead the next phase of the government’s support for rough sleepers during the pandemic.

“While councils continue to provide accommodation to those that need it, it is only responsible that we work with partners to ensure rough sleepers can move into long-term, safe accommodation once the immediate crisis is over."

Back in March, a whopping £3.2 million was pledged to councils to help homeless people to self-isolate.

At the time, communities secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Public safety and protecting the most vulnerable people in society from coronavirus is this government’s top priority.

"We are working closely with councils and charities to ensure they have the support they need throughout this period."

A homeless person on the steps of the former Bank of England on Castle Street.

The move was praised across Liverpool by residents and Mr Anderson's team who were tasked with relocating 110 individuals and around 50 households during the lockdown.

In Liverpool, the scheme was expected to cost around £300k for the next three months until June but it is not yet clear what the final cost was.

Anyone in Liverpool who is at immediate risk of becoming homeless is being urged to contact the council’s Housing Options Team via phone or online.

Previously, people looking for advice or support were able to call into the team’s office in St John’s Market for face-to-face assessments, however to limit the spread of coronavirus the public counter has now been closed.

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People can refer themselves to Housing Options by calling Careline, the council’s 24/7 social care contact centre, on 0151 233 3800 (Freephone 0800 731 6844).

And now a new online form has been launched to make the service even more accessible:

Professionals who are already supporting residents can still refer people to Housing Options under their Duty to Refer responsibility using the usual online form.

The process for getting support for rough sleepers remains the same – use the 24-hour ‘Always Room Inside’ number: 0300 123 2041.

The Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government has been approached for comment.