ROUGH sleepers temporarily rehoused in hotels in St Helens will not be sent back to the streets as the local economy springs back into action, a Labour councillor has said.

During the lockdown, St Helens Borough Council and its partners have supported 30 people into temporary accommodation, as part of government drive to take 15,000 rough sleepers off the streets during the pandemic.

Local authorities were given £3.2 million to provide emergency shelter for homeless people, with many housed in hotels.

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Luke Hall, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, wrote to councils in England at the beginning of this month, asking for them to outline their next-step support plans for rough sleepers within seven days.

The Tory homelessness minister also suggested that councils should “seek to encourage people, where appropriate and possible, to return to friends and family.”

Prior to writing to councils, the government announced that it was providing £433 million to deliver 6,000 new long-term homes for rough sleepers.

And last week, the government announced that it would be providing an additional £105 million to support rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness into tenancies of their own, including through help with deposits for accommodation, and securing thousands of alternative rooms already available, such as student accommodation.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked St Helens Borough Council what its next steps are for those currently in temporary accommodation, but a council spokesman said it is still not in a position to share the plans.

Cllr Jeanie Bell, the council’s cabinet member for community safety, said that in the short-term, hotels have assured the council the emergency accommodation can be maintained as long as it is needed.

She said the council’s longer-term plans are “still developing”, with the council awaiting further detail from central government regarding how it will access the extra cash.

Cllr Bell said: “In the immediate danger of COVID-19 our priority has been to get these vulnerable people off the streets and into safe, but temporary accommodation in local commercial hotels.

“Thankfully, as more businesses are beginning to reopen, we have had assurances from these hotels that temporary accommodation for homeless and rough sleepers will be maintained for as long as needed.

“With the emergency of the pandemic beginning to pass, we have a chance now to secure sustainable, long-term solutions for the homeless and rough sleepers in the borough and achieve real change.

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“Those plans are still developing, and we hope to find out more about the government’s promise of funding, for which we understand local authorities must bid to secure a portion.

“We will seek to maximise this funding to continue to assist homeless and rough sleepers to access accommodation in the short-term and to provide support to individuals to sustain tenancies and prevent first time homelessness and returns to the streets.”