01/02/2018 15:47 GMT

New Panel Meets To Tackle Issue Of Rough Sleeping

Experts from homelessness charities and local government met for the first time today as part of the Government’s new advisory panel aimed at helping to eliminate rough sleeping within a decade.

The panel, chaired by Homelessness Minister Heather Wheeler, will help develop a national rough sleeping strategy to halve the problem over the course of the Parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027.

Heather Wheeler said: “We cannot accept rough sleeping as a stubborn problem that will always be with us.

“That’s why we are providing over £1 billion of funding, supporting those who are homeless and rough sleeping and bringing in the most ambitious legislation in decades that will mean people get the support they need earlier.

“Tackling homelessness is complex, but no one should ever have to sleep rough.

“The new panel is clear we need to act swiftly to realise our shared determination to help the most vulnerable in society and eliminate rough sleeping for good.”

The panel will meet monthly and will report in the summer with a series of recommendations.

Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue magazine and a member of the panel, said: “More than ever, we need to find new ways to ensure that people don’t find themselves homeless, sofa-surfing or rough-sleeping in the first place.

“I will be using my voice on the panel to call for cross-departmental thinking and action on the most effective preventative measures, as part of a re-energised, all-out effort to tackle the root causes of poverty – and not just its symptoms.”