Kingston is to benefit from a £16 million government fund to end the cycle of homelessness and hospital readmissions.
The South West London Health and Care Partnership, led by Kingston borough, will receive a segment of the money for pilot schemes to support homeless people after being discharged from hospital.
Gillian Keegan, minister for care, said: “By bridging the gaps between hospitals and homes these support networks are breaking the link between homelessness and multiple repeat hospitalisations.
“We know there is more to do and we are committed to improving the lives of people sleeping rough with support that makes a real difference not only to the individual but their families, communities and the NHS.”
According to government research, homeless people released from hospital are twice as likely to require readmission for an emergency than patients with housing. Research conducted in 2013 found that 70 per cent of homeless patients admitted into hospital are discharged to the street rather than to accommodation.
Aileen Almond, chief executive at Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness (KCAH), said: “Any funding which enables people to find a permanent route out of homelessness is welcome. It is really important that it’s multi-year so that change which is more than short-term and piecemeal can be achieved.”
People sleeping rough have a life expectancy 30 years lower than the general housed population, and are at greater risk of drug- and alcohol-related conditions. Almost two in five homeless deaths in 2019 were related to drug poisoning.
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough – extra support will ensure those who do not have a home can get the help they need. […] These pilot schemes will show how much more effective care can be when it’s integrated and the best examples will be taken forward to help tackle homelessness across the country.”
This fund is just a small part of the £750 million committed by the government to tackle homelessness throughout 2021/22, and support homeless people with healthcare during the pandemic. The aim is to end homelessness altogether by 2024.
Kingston Council has stated that, besides this funding for pilot projects, it will receive £4.5 million from the government over 2021/22 to target homelessness.
A council spokesperson said: “[The money will] contribute towards the costs incurred by the council in preventing homelessness, provision of temporary accommodation and support for families and single people including rough sleepers.”