21 November 2008
By Neil Merrick
Ministers have pledged to end rough sleeping within four years after announcing a package of measures worth £200m.
Homeless people will receive money towards a deposit for renting a home and greater access to health care, while street rescue teams run by charities are to be expanded. The government will also work more closely with business to create extra job opportunities.
According to the government's latest street count, 483 people sleep rough across the country on any given night compared with 1,850 in 1997 — a reduction of two-thirds. However, charities claim these figures can be unreliable.
Announcing the package on November 18, housing minister Margaret Beckett said rough sleeping was unacceptable and must be brought to an end by 2012. 'This strategy is not just about getting someone a bed for the night, it's also about preventing rough sleeping in the first place,' she said.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the charity Crisis, said the package included measures that many groups had been campaigning for.