Town receives £170,000 windfall towards ending rough sleeping

The money is part of the Government’s Rough Sleeping Strategy, which is providing local authorities with a share of £46 million in an attempt to end rough sleeping in the UK completely.

Tunbridge Wells is to receive £170,718, despite the fact at the last rough sleeper count, only seven people were recorded as sleeping on the streets in the royal town.

But a spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said this was because of the investment and initiatives that had already taken place.

She added: “Tunbridge Wells has had high numbers of rough sleepers for a number of years, and we continue to see an average of 10 people sleeping rough at any one time.

“Our annual estimate/count figure taken in November 2018 was seven, which was much lower than the previous year – in 2017 we estimated 20 rough sleepers. We believe the lower figure was partly due to the Rough Sleeper Initiatives we were already working on during 2018/19.”

She said the money given to TWBC was based on the number of rough sleepers the Council were aware of and the cost of the initiatives they believe will have the most impact on reducing it in the local area.

The funding will go towards a number of initiatives, which include funding a full-time outreach worker to give rough sleepers support to access the services available to help them.

“This is an extremely valuable role, many rough sleepers can be deterred from accessing help because they fear it might be too difficult for them to negotiate, a support worker can remove that fear,” said the council’s spokesperson.

She continued: “We are also going to be providing a further ten ‘Housing First’ tenancies for rough sleepers, and two support workers to help them sustain their tenancies in either private rented accommodation or housing association flats.

“Once again there will also be an extension to the Tunbridge Wells Churches Winter Shelter so that it can open in December rather than January and some additional funding for rent deposits for lower need rough sleepers who can sustain their own privately rented accommodation.”

Central Government has stated that it intends to halve rough sleeping across the UK by 2022 and end it completely by 2027.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “This is all part of the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative, launched last spring, which is providing over £45 million to councils over the next 2 years to support rough sleepers in their area off the streets and into secure accommodation where they can get the help they need to rebuild their lives.”

 “We are taking the necessary steps to make that happen, already providing 2,600 additional beds and 750 more support staff for the most vulnerable people in our society.

“But we must keep up the momentum and that’s why we are giving this funding to areas and projects that need it, ensuring progress continues to be made and people are given the help they need to turn their lives around.”

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