26th January 2017
By Peter Tremayne
The number of people sleeping rough in Cornwall has hit a new high – 99, up more than 50% on the previous year. The 2015 figure was itself a 62% increase on 2014.
The grim statistic elevates Cornwall to third place in a national “league of shame” of local authority areas. Only London and Brighton are worse, with Cornwall having overtaken Bristol and Manchester in the past 12 months.
Cornwall Council says it is allocating £850,000 to help get rough sleepers off the streets. The council’s cabinet member for housing and environment, Joyce Duffin said: “Obviously it is not good news that we have seen a significant increase in the number of rough sleepers in Cornwall which is reflected in the national trend.
“I expect the pressures to continue with the Housing & Planning Act stopping Housing Benefit for under 22-year-olds and only covering a room in a shared house for under 35s. Public Health funding cuts have also affected supported living contracts which help keep vulnerable people in housing.
“Tackling rough sleeping is a key priority for the Council and strong and effective partnerships are in place to develop a range of responses. This includes immediate, medium and long term activities to strengthen services across Cornwall in terms of both the prevention of rough sleeping and responding to existing rough sleepers.
“Cornwall Council and its partners are developing a series of proposals as part of a comprehensive action plan to
respond to the increase in rough sleeping in Cornwall. This will be aimed at stemming the flow of people on to the streets as well as providing accommodation/support options for existing rough sleepers and will take in good practice in this field, drawn from local and national examples.”
“The Government’s Rough Sleeper Programme has provided around £290,000 to deliver a ‘No First Night Out’ approach which includes Cornwall Housing, St Petroc’s and Coastline working together to prevent people from having to sleep rough in the first place.
This additional £850,000 will support the work that is going into producing a long term Rough Sleeper Prevention Strategy.”
The move follows a steady decline in council funding to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in Cornwall, revealed in response to questions filed under the Freedom of Information Act.