Sheffield homeless project scrapped as beggars say they earn more on the streets
A project to help homeless people in Sheffield is being scrapped – partly because beggars say they can earn more money on the streets.
The Housing First pilot between Sheffield Council and the Cathedral Archer Project aimed to provide housing support for single, homeless people with multiple and complex needs.
But council officers say the service has faced “a number of challenges” including people saying they can earn more money begging.
In a video by the charity Help Us Help, one man says he can earn up to £300 a day begging and he claims nine out of 10 beggars spend the money on drugs.
The pilot aimed to provide an intensive personalised service to help homeless people find and remain in tenancies, improve their health and wellbeing and reduce rough sleeping. It worked with 10 homeless people initially as a trial.
In a report to councillors, officer Emma Hickman says: “The service has faced a number of challenges. One of the biggest challenges has been the lack of affordable, suitable one bedroom self-contained accommodation.
“The private sector has not been able to produce this type of accommodation within the limits of the Local Housing Allowance for single people and in particular for those under 35. Public sector landlords have also struggled to provide accommodation.
“The level of non-engagement from some clients who have not felt able to take on the responsibility of a tenancy and who can earn substantial amounts of money begging.
“Although there have been some partial successes, the expected level of outcomes has not been achieved.”
It was launched last November and should have run for three years at a cost of £354,303 but the council has pulled the plug before its 2020 finish date.
Coun Jim Steinke, the Cabinet member in charge of homelessness, said: “We are working with service providers and clients to ensure that people continue to receive the support they need.
“The contract end date in April will enable minimum negative impact on clients currently supported by the pilot.
“The council is facing significant financial pressures and in setting its budget for 2019/20 is planning to use reserves and other one off sources of funding to manage the overall budget.
“So some of the funding will be used to ensure there is continued support for the existing housing first service users but anything left goes to supporting the council’s budget gap.”
The council provides a number of services to support people who beg and/or are homeless.
Help Us Help is run by a partnership of local charities, the council and residents groups.
People looking for advice on dealing with beggars can find more information at www.helpushelp.uk