16 June 2010
St Mungo's has welcomed the news that a new cross Government Homelessness Working Group has met for the first time and that there is to be a change in how rough sleeper numbers are counted.
The Group's first meeting took place today, chaired by Housing Minister Grant Shapps MP. He also announced plans to overhaul the way in which rough sleepers are counted. Agreed changes will come into effect from 2011.
The Prime Minister had tasked Ministers in eight government departments with stepping up action to address the issue. Mr Shapps said: "This Coalition Government will not stick our heads in the sand and ignore the true picture of the number of those facing life on the streets. That's why I am announcing today that we will overhaul the Rough Sleeping Count from 2011 so that it is a credible measure and reflects the reality of the situation.
"And for the first time, Ministers from across eight Government departments are coming together to ensure that the needs of the homeless are being met, not just in terms of housing, but in employment, training, rehabilitation and healthcare."
Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo's, said: "Any changes that make for a more accurate rough sleeper count are to be welcomed. It is also very good news that this cross-Whitehall group is up and running. St Mungo's has been urging for more integrated cross-Departmental working for some time.
"We will be inviting all the Homelessness Working Group members to visit our projects, meet our clients and find out not only how better to prevent homelessness but also ways to support homeless people in rebuilding their lives. Our Action Week, which starts on Sunday, aims to highlight the problems homeless people can face when it comes to finding work."
The Ministers making up the new Homelessness Working Group are:
St Mungo's 2010 Action Week, 20-27 June, is focusing on supporting homeless people's journey into work.
For further information contact Judith Higgin, St Mungo's, on 020 8762 5645, email email@example.com
See coverage about the story in the Independent, 17 June