Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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Extra help for rough sleepers with drug and alcohol dependency

Rough sleepers across England will receive extra support to help them recover from drug and alcohol misuse.

  • £23 million investment for 43 areas this year, boosted by a further £52 million in 2021 to 2022
  • Initial £10 million funding confirmed to provide extra accommodation for rough sleepers throughout winter

Rough sleepers across England will receive extra support to help them recover from drug and alcohol misuse, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst MP yesterday (14 December 2020) announced.

Forty-three areas across England will receive support from a £23 million government fund designed for those with drug and alcohol support needs to get the help they need to rebuild their lives. The programme will be boosted by a further £52 million in 2021 to 2022.

Rough sleepers who are being provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic as part of the government’s ‘Everyone In’ programme, and people who are currently rough sleeping, will be eligible for support.

In partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, and managed by Public Health England, the funding will enable them to access drug and alcohol treatment, including detox and rehabilitation services.

This will be alongside wraparound support, such as access to mental health and substance dependence workers and peer mentors, who are key to working with vulnerable people in treatment services.

The minister has also confirmed an initial £10 million funding for 19 areas, plus the Greater London Authority, under the government’s £15 million ‘Protect Programme’. This is to provide accommodation for rough sleepers during the pandemic in areas that required extra support during the restrictions and throughout winter.

Taken together, government spending on rough sleeping and homelessness this year is over £700 million, with the ‘Everyone In’ campaign helping to protect thousands of lives during the pandemic by housing rough sleepers in safe accommodation.

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst yesterday said:

We know that one of the main issues facing those sleeping rough, or at risk of homelessness, is misuse of drugs or alcohol and what a crippling effect these substances have on people’s lives.

While our ‘Everyone In’ campaign has helped to protect thousands of lives, we still need to work hard to break the cycle of rough sleeping for good.

This funding will provide thousands of vulnerable people with the support they need to get on the road to recovery to rebuild their lives away from the streets for good.

Health Minister Jo Churchill yesterday said:

The need to support the most vulnerable groups in society has never been more important or more apparent than this year.

We are committed to supporting those who want to break the cycle of addiction.

This funding will not only help those personally fighting addiction, but also benefit their loved ones and the communities who suffer from the often very difficult consequences of substance misuse.

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health England yesterday said:

Those sleeping rough with substance misuse problems can find it difficult to access services that can help them – their health continues to deteriorate and it becomes harder for them to turn their lives around.

This grant will help people who sleep rough struggling with addiction to improve their health and break this pattern and we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact this will have now and in the future.

Steve Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s yesterday said:

Our own Knocked Back research published earlier this year shows how it has become increasingly difficult for people sleeping rough to access the substance misuse services they need. We also found that drug overdoses were one of the main causes of death of people who do sleep rough.

We are pleased that the government is targeting funding to tackle this urgent issue alongside other efforts to reduce the number of people sleeping on the streets.

This year we have seen what is possible when a coordinated multi-agency approach to providing support is taken. And we at St Mungo’s will continue to work with national and local government, and our local partners, to build on these successes and enable as many people as possible to get the help and support they need to recover from homelessness.

Further information

A full breakdown of funding allocations for the substance misuse fund

Local authority Allocation
Barnet £286,598
Bedford £222,563
Birmingham £792,075
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole £494,218
Brent £389,423
Brighton and Hove £354,035
Bristol £711,064
Cambridge £403,839
Camden £349,980
Cornwall £841,495
Croydon £480,955
Dorset £306,713
Ealing £454,688
Enfield £271,339
Hackney and the City £642,445
Haringey £256,360
Hillingdon £171,665
Islington £498,493
Kingston £354,595
Lambeth £326,858
Leeds £560,903
Lewisham £449,839
Liverpool £490,957
Luton £409,881
Manchester £854,310
Milton Keynes £243,160
Newham £601,960
Northamptonshire £367,234
Oxford £584,834
Peterborough £310,300
Portsmouth £682,243
Preston £551,173
Reading £473,123
Redbridge £192,964
Richmond £178,895
Sheffield £373,398
Southampton £469,603
Southend £317,818
Southwark £339,245
Tower Hamlets £615,285
Wandsworth £293,729
Westminster £1,124,541
Pan-London Inpatient Detox Provision £402,580
Pan-London Homelessness Drug and Alcohol Service £77,600

A full breakdown of funding allocations for the Protect Programme

Local authority Allocation
City of Bristol £565,671
Brighton and Hove £106,255
Cornwall £591,444
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole £337,000
Manchester £453,965
Salford £372,500
Leicester £299,915
Birmingham £430,000
London (GLA) £3,955,571
Westminster £ 856,916
Islington £128,500
Hillingdon £80,500
Camden £ 209,025
Ealing £200,000
Southwark £411,150
City of London £174,069
Newham £ 303,000
Tower Hamlets £196,296
Lambeth £141,600
Total £9,813,377

Over the past year alone, 61% of those sleeping rough in London said they needed help with addiction problems, with 39% reporting alcohol misuse and a further 39% reporting drug misuse.

The department has also published the initial findings a survey of more than 500 rough sleepers, to build a better understanding of people who sleep rough, their support needs, and the associated costs.

The findings show that the vast majority (96%) of the respondents experienced another support need in addition to sleeping rough, such as physical or mental health vulnerabilities, substance misuse support needs, time spent in prison or having been a victim of domestic abuse or a recent victim of crime, while 91% had been affected by two or more of these issues.

The research also found that the estimated average annual cost of an individual that sleeps rough was £12,260, compared with £3,100 for all individuals of a similar age, who can access comparable services.

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