Government responds to St Mungo’s call for continuation of free Covid-19 tests for homelessness services

Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the Government’s decision to continue offering free Covid-19 tests for high-risk settings, including homelessness settings.

The news comes after St Mungo’s, in partnership with other homelessness organisations, wrote to the Secretaries of State for DHSC and DLUHC calling on the Government to continue supporting clients and staff in homelessness settings after the end of community testing.

Following that letter, yesterday (29 March) the Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that after the universal testing offer ends on 1 April, tests will continue to be available to protect those most vulnerable to the virus at no cost.

These include:

  • Free symptomatic testing for people living or working in some high-risk settings, including supported living services, and;
  • Free asymptomatic testing for high-risk settings where infection can spread rapidly, including domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.

St Mungo’s Chief Executive, Steve Douglas CBE, said: “It is good to see the Government responding to the recommendations of the homelessness sector, who have been working together tirelessly to advocate for the continuation of free testing across homelessness services.

“The crisis is not over, even as we learn to live with Covid-19. We at St Mungo’s know from our work with our many clients that people who are homeless are more likely to be clinically vulnerable, and often live in high density accommodation where transmission rates are greater, meaning they are at an increased risk from the virus.

“The people we support also face significant barriers in accessing the vaccine, meaning that uptake is low compared to the general population.

“We look forward to the Government announcing further details and the operational logistics of this initiative, to ensure that those who are homeless have what they need to be safe and protected in the future.”