Liverpool Council leader issues 'urgent plea' to government on homelessness as Emergency Protocol activated

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Liverpool Council's leader is demanding more support during the "unprecedented homelessness crisis".

Liverpool's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated as the city faces sub-zero temperatures and the chance of snowfall.

The measure aims to protect the city's homeless population and rough sleepers during particularly difficult weather, with temporary accommodation provided through The Whitechapel Centre. Food and prescribed medication is also available.

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The activation of the protocol comes as Liverpool Council's leader, Liam Robinson, demands more support during the "unprecedented homelessness crisis".

"Situation getting worse"

In a statement on Twitter, the Labour councillor said: "Two weeks ago myself & Sarah Doyle wrote to government highlighting the housing & homelessness crisis in Liverpool as part of a UK emergency. We’ve still had no reply. With temperatures dropping and the situation getting worse, we’ve written again to escalate this emergency."

The attached letter, addressed to Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, discusses the 'unprecedented homelessness' and notes key issues such as no fault evictions, asylum and local health services. The letter includes a plea from 141 local health care professionals who note 'extremely high' levels of mental health concerns in the homeless community.

The letter continues: "We would urge you to please read and respond to our previous letter with the upmost urgency it deserves. The current pressure on the system is unsustainable.

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"We will continue to do what we can with the scarce resources we have. However, we must highlight to you and your colleagues that without extra support and a clear long-term plan on this issue, we fear for the wellbeing of all those seeking warmth, safety and a home as we head into winter."

Councillor Sarah Doyle, cabinet member for housing, said, "the extent to which Government is ignoring the homelessness crisis which is unfolding across the country is shameful" and thanked local health care professionals for their input.

The pair initially wrote to Michael Gove earlier this month, requesting additional help and stating the acceleration of decisions on refugees and asylum seekers was worsening the crisis.

At the time, a Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities spokeswoman said: "We are determined to prevent homelessness before it occurs. That is why we are providing Liverpool City Council £3.9m through the Homelessness Prevention Grant, helping those at risk of homelessness to access the private rented sector."

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About The SWEP: The Severe Weather Emergency Protocol was set to be activated from December 1 until March 31, however, due to temperatures below two degrees it has been activated early. More information can be found here.

Liverpool's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated as the city faces sub-zero temperatures and the chance of snowfall. Photo: Getty Images/Christopher FurlongLiverpool's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated as the city faces sub-zero temperatures and the chance of snowfall. Photo: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
Liverpool's Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) has been activated as the city faces sub-zero temperatures and the chance of snowfall. Photo: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

Support for homelessness: If you see anyone at risk of rough sleeping, call the council's helpline on 0300 123 2041. This operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. The Outreach Team can then respond and support rough sleepers. Alternatively, contact The Whitechapel Centre.

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