Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson has welcomed protections for rough sleepers and renters from the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
The Government has announced £10m in funding for local authorities so they can continue to focus their efforts on trying to find accommodation for those living on the streets.
This money is designed to help reach out to those who may have previously refused assistance, as the combination of the cold winter months and the high infection rates is putting them at greater risk.
Meanwhile, renters will continue to be supported during the new national restrictions, with an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases for at least six weeks – until at least 21 February – with measures kept under review.
Macpherson welcomed the additional funding, but believer further long-term support is needed to help people turn their lives around.
He said: “Throughout my time as PCC, and, indeed, in my life before I came into office, I have taken an active role in ensuring that the appropriate help and support is provided for those who are homeless.
“The covid-19 pandemic has affected us all, but it has also highlighted the stark divide in our society, with the most vulnerable being hit hardest by this virus and its impact.
“A winter on the streets is perilous at any time, but the current ongoing situation poses a particularly grave risk to rough sleepers.
"But simply providing a roof over someone's head is not enough. The majority of these people will need ongoing support to help them maintain a home.
“We all know that a huge amount of police time is taken up with dealing with that should technically not count as a 'policing' matter. Our frontline officers and staff are providing emergency care and support for people in crisis, whether that be homelessness, substance misuse or mental health issues.
“Getting the right long-term support into the right places is key to reducing that demand on the police and allowing us to focus on our main priorities – preventing crime and keeping the public safe.”
The Government has also issued renewed guidance on the operation of night shelters during the current national lockdown, giving advice on how best to keep staff, volunteers and users safe.
Mr Macpherson added: “I know what a vital service these shelters provide, and, of course, it is hugely important that these are supported to operate in the safest way possible.” ?