On Thursday 17 December, Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, spoke at Business Questions and called for a debate on support for the homeless and help with drugs and alcohol abuse.
People at risk of rough sleeping and homelessness will be able to access extra support in Southend, after the Government announced £317,818 in additional funding as part of a wider plan to end rough sleeping for good by 2024.
Sir David said “Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the relationship between alcohol and homelessness? Shelter has done some work whereby it found out that two thirds of respondents cite drugs and alcohol as a reason for their being homeless. Southend HARP has done a fantastic job in reducing rough sleeping during the coronavirus pandemic. Particularly as we move towards Christmas, I hope that the Government will continue to work hard on the issue of homelessness. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a far better 2021, when I hope Southend will become a city”.
Jacob Rees-Mogg replied “I have been waiting for that last bit, though I might remind my hon. Friend that a jubilee is coming in 2022 and that sometimes is an occasion when more cities are made—but I am not promising anything. To come to his very important point, alcohol and substance abuse have long been associated with homelessness, and I would like to join him in commending the charity Southend HARP for reducing rough sleeping during the pandemic. With Christmas approaching the need to end rough sleeping is thrown into even sharper relief. I commend my right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary for the effort he and his Department have made this year to support the homeless and end rough sleeping. The Government have taken unprecedented action to support the most vulnerable people in our society during the current pandemic, backed by more than £700 million of taxpayers’ money to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone. On Monday, the rough sleeping Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Kelly Tolhurst), announced £23 million of funding for this year to provide substance misuse treatment and recovery services for people sleeping rough. That will be backed by additional spending of £52 million in 2021-22”.