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£23m in government funding unveiled to combat addiction among rough sleepers

A £23 million pot will be made available to 40 areas across England to help tackle drug and alcohol abuse among rough sleepers.

Announced this week by the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Kelly Tolhurst, the funds are intended to improve access to services that help with drug and alcohol addiction, such as detox and rehabilitation services and mental health support.

The pot will receive a boost in 2021/22 when an additional £52 million will be allocated to the programme.

The funding comes as Labour leader Keir Starmer has pushed for Boris Johnson to stick to his pledge of ending homelessness, in the wake of a growing population of people sleeping rough this Christmas.

The new funds will bring government spending this year on helping the homeless up to £700 million, building on the ongoing Everyone In campaign which has been placing rough sleepers in safe accommodation during the pandemic.

“We know that one of the main issues facing those sleeping rough, or at risk of homelessness, is misuse of drugs or alcohol and what a crippling effect these substances have on people’s lives," said Tolhurst. “While our ‘Everyone In’ campaign has helped to protect thousands of lives, we still need to work hard to break the cycle of rough sleeping for good.

Read more: No one should "suffer in silence" – £500m announced for mental health services

“This funding will provide thousands of vulnerable people with the support they need to get on the road to recovery to rebuild their lives away from the streets for good.”

According to government data, 61% of rough sleepers struggle with addiction, with alcohol abuse and drug abuse both occurring in almost 4 in 10 cases.

Current rough sleepers and those receiving accommodation through the Everyone In campaign will be eligible for support.

An initial £10 million will be made available to 19 areas and Greater London through the government's Protect Programme as a means of giving extra support to rough sleepers in areas most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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