Tue, 29 May 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has been urged to make a commitment to ensure no-one is sleeping rough in the district by 2020.
At a meeting of the council’s health and wellbeing board, the chief officer of Healthwatch West Berkshire, Andrew Sharp (pictured), called on board members to set a date.
However, the council’s executive member for health, Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), said he was reluctant to do so, because he is not confident it can be achieved.
It was also claimed that a more strategic approach to tackle homelessness is needed in West Berkshire if the district is to help the most vulnerable.
West Berkshire Council, agencies and voluntary groups will combine their expertise to draw up an action plan to respond to the “important topic with an increasing profile”.
The plan, in response to a report into rough sleeping and homelessness in the district, was laid out at the meeting.
Healthwatch West Berkshire’s Homeless and Rough Sleepers Report 2018, published in February, found that there had been an “unprecedented rise” in the number of people sleeping rough in the district.
It said that the official figures, which predict there are around 20 people in West Berkshire, were “a major underestimation”.
Government statistics show that the number of rough sleepers per 1,000 households is 50 per cent higher in West Berkshire than the national average (0.31 compared with 0.2).
At the meeting, Mr Sharp said: “Let’s get a commitment to this happening. I would like the board to come out and say ‘we want to end rough sleeping by...’. I would like it to be 2020.
“Why don’t we be at the forefront of getting out of this? We have three times the homeless number of Bracknell and twice the national average.”
For the full report see The Newbury Weekly News, on sale now.