02:48PM, Wednesday 24 June 2020
Slough Borough Council will aim to house rough sleepers who have been staying in the Manor Hotel since lockdown by the end of this month.
The Government gave local authorities 48 hours to house all single homeless vulnerable people and rough sleepers on March 27 due to the coronavirus crisis.
Councillors heard at the virtual neighbourhoods and community services scrutiny panel on Monday night that the council ‘moved very early’ and managed to secure 40 rooms at the hotel in Datchet and an additional 39 rooms in the borough.
By the second week of lockdown it had 79 rough sleepers in temporary accommodation and now 23 remain at the hotel.
The council now has 50 rough sleepers and single homeless vulnerable people overall which need permanent accommodation and it has identified 33 units which can be moved into.
When asked how many of the rough sleepers were from Slough, Richard West, interim director of place and development at Slough said: “The majority of the new ones are from outside the town, we’ve got a number of them who have come from the north for work and who actually have homes.”
He said they were camping in the town and officers were engaging with them.
Mr West said putting up rough sleepers in the hotel was funded with £300k from central Government and a further £100k had been allocated from the Community Investment Fund by Slough cabinet last week, ‘after that we’re on our own,’ he added.
Councillors also heard from Colin Moone, service lead for housing services who gave a report into the exit strategy for rough sleepers.
He said the council was ‘deluged with requests’ after the Government issued its request in March as rough sleepers and homeless people ‘came out of the woodwork’.
He also said there is a lot of rough sleepers on the high street from other local authorities which are not their responsibility.
Cllr Satpal S. Parmer (Lab, Cippenham Meadows) asked how long they would be kept in hotels and said it was like a ‘five star sandwich’.
Mr Moon replied: “We have an exit strategy to house most of them into another form of accommodation in the private sector, we do have a strategy to move them out of the hotel so no more five star sandwiches.”
Praise was also given to the team for housing rough sleepers at the beginning of the pandemic.
Cllr Paul Kelly (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “Your work is like a poisoned chalice, you’re doing an impossible job in a challenging time."
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