Team ‘dedicated’ to helping homeless

It is estimated that only three people slept rough in Wigan last year

It is estimated that only three people slept rough in Wigan last year

Homeless people are being told by councils to sleep rough so they can get help, research by a charity has found.

People who turned to their local authority for help were often sent packing without support or instructed to sleep rough in order to access services, according to a report by St Mungo’s but Wigan Council has said it would never advise a homeless person to sleep rough to access services.

Our homelessness forum has excellent staff from a number of organisations all committed and dedicated to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities

Coun Chris Ready

The findings, based on interviews with 40 St Mungo’s clients, suggested that three-quarters of homeless people had slept rough the night after they asked a council for help because they had nowhere to stay.

But Wigan Council said the work it and its partners does to prevent homelessness has been recognised as among the very best in the country, receiving the gold standard by national assessors appointed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The council’s team had to pass 10 tough standards to achieve the award and is only the second council in the country to achieve it, and the first in the North of England.

All councils carry out an annual estimate of street homelessness – where someone is seen to bed down at night. This year in Wigan borough the number was three – down from seven in 2014, and 13 in 2013.

Coun Chris Ready, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Our homelessness forum has excellent staff from a number of organisations all committed and dedicated to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Our success is all down to effective partnership work between the council and partner agencies who work tirelessly to carry out early intervention and prevent homelessness.”

The homelessness partnership in Wigan offers a housing options prevention service and a No Second Night Out model in order to prevent rough sleeping and would not advise someone to sleep rough in order to access services.

St Mungo’s has called on the government to ensure that no one is sent away by local authorities and took part in a mass lobby on Wednesday in support of the Homelessness Reduction Bill. A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said they were considering the contents of the bill.