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Cash boost to support rough sleepers

 More than £440,000 has been given to councils across Worcestershire to continue supporting rough sleepers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The money comes from the Government's Next Steps Accommodation Programme, which is part of the national strategy to end rough sleeping for good.

Funding will be used to continue providing B&B and hotel accommodation until March next year, for rough sleepers placed in temporary accommodation at the height of the coronavirus outbreak. Help will also be given to people to find a permanent home in the private rented sector.

There will also be extra money to provide emergency cold weather shelters for rough sleepers this winter.

Wychavon led the successful funding bid in collaboration with the five other district councils in Worcestershire.

Further funding bids have been made to the Government to find long-term solutions to prevent people from having to sleep rough in the first place.

Cllr Christopher Day, Executive Board Member for Housing, Health and Well-being on Wychavon District Council, said: "I'm delighted we have been successful in securing this money. This means we can provide permanent housing solutions for those we have supported during the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure they remain off the streets."

Cllr Natalie McVey, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Health on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "This money will allow our housing team to permanently change the lives of those we are already helping. Unfortunately, we know the economic impact of the pandemic means more people will sadly be forced to sleep rough in the future. That's why I'm pleased to see some of this money will provide emergency accommodation this winter while we work on securing funding for our long-term plans."

Cllr James Stanley, Chair of Worcester City Council's Communities Committee, said: "This additional funding will make a significant contribution to the reduction of rough sleeping in Worcester. It is particularly welcome as the winter months approach, and we continue our work to protect homeless people and local communities from COVID as case numbers rise."

Cllr Shirley Webb, Bromsgrove District Council's Portfolio Holder for Strategic Housing and Health and Well Being, said: "I'm pleased we've been able to secure this funding, which will help us and our Worcestershire neighbours support people we have housed at this difficult time to stay off the streets."

Cllr Craig Warhurst, Redditch Borough Council's Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: "As a council that's proud to still own and operate local housing stock, we're committed to tackling rough sleeping on all fronts. This money will be a welcome boost to our efforts in supporting all the people we re-house to stay off the streets - for good."

Councillor Nicky Martin, Wyre Forest District Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, Health and Wellbeing, said: "We have worked hard to get people off the streets while COVID-19 was at its peak in the community. To help us continue housing homeless people looking for a long-term solution the six districts applied for a Government grant of £650k. Although we didn't receive what we requested, we are pleased we have been given £445k."

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