£28 million of funding is to be allocated to councils across England to help rough sleepers get COVID-19 vaccines and move into accommodation over the winter.
The Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes issued a letter addressed to councils in England detailing the government’s plans to protect and vaccinate rough sleepers in the face of surging coronavirus case numbers and the omicron variant. Mr Hughes said;
“We know about the low vaccination rates amongst the rough sleeping population, omicron presents a severe risk to the individuals you do so much to protect.
“Therefore, I am asking now for a range of action to make sure that we put in place the right support and help us to vaccinate this vulnerable group with urgency.”
The letter announces £25 million in funding to go to local authorities for providing rough sleepers with self-contained accommodation, while £3.2 million will be made available to form a “vaccination incentivisation package”, to be used at the councils’ discretion.
Mr Hughes added,
“Importantly, you should do all you can, working with partners in the NHS to ensure everyone in this cohort gets vaccinated. For people who have received no doses of the vaccine or just one this will take time … this is why it is vital that we provide additional funding for emergency accommodation to keep people safe.”
The letter also said that the government would work closely with NHSEI’s Vaccine Deployment Programme to make sure mobile vaccination centres can be set up where there is understood to be a high concentration of unvaccinated rough sleepers.