Leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s has welcomed the consultation on replacing the Vagrancy Act, which criminalises rough sleeping and begging in England and Wales.

Launched today (7 April) by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), the consultation seeks proposals on how to respond effectively to begging, and encourage people sleeping rough to engage with support services.

This follows the Government’s announcement in February this year that it would repeal the 200-year old act, in response to a coordinated campaign across the homelessness sector under the umbrella of #ScrapTheAct.

The four-week consultation period will take place from 7 April to 5 May 2022.

St Mungo’s Executive Director of Strategy and Development, Rebecca Sycamore, said: “It is good to see the Government progressing quickly with its consultation on repealing the Vagrancy Act, as people sleeping rough need a roof over their head and ongoing support to recover from homelessness, not to be criminalised.

“We know from working with our clients that criminalising rough sleeping can drive people further from the support they need.

“St Mungo’s will be responding to the consultation. We believe that the act should be replaced with persistent and trauma informed outreach, which was a key recommendation in the Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping.

“We urge the Government to carefully consider the evidence and advice from expert frontline service providers in the homelessness sector, as well as those with lived experience. This will ensure the new legislation is workable and fit for purpose, and support our shared aim of ending rough sleeping.”