One of Greenwich’s senior councillors has appealed for the Government not to cut off financial support after the borough put more than 60 homeless people into emergency accommodation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter penned by Greenwich Councillor Anthony Okereke, the authority’s new cabinet member for housing asked the Government for clarity and long-term support in housing the district’s homeless.

It comes amid concerns that support has quietly been withdrawn for the “Everyone In” scheme, which saw more than 5000 homeless across the UK given emergency housing in hotels in a bid to shelter them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Manchester Evening News last week said a leaked report showed ministers had “quietly pulled the plug” on the project, after giving councils across the UK £3.2 billion since March to house rough sleepers.

In his letter to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government Robert Jenrick, Cllr Okereke asked for funding to councils be provided so they can permanently house rough sleepers. 

“A clear lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is that we can overcome homelessness when national, regional and local authorities come together and when there is the political will to do so,” Cllr Okereke wrote.

“The lockdown may have slowed the overall rise in homelessness but

we have actually seen an increase in single people approaching us for housing support, and expect the overall rate to rise as we leave lockdown.

“I welcome the specialist taskforce that you have set up to lead the next phase of support, but it is important that the Government has a long-term strategy in place to support councils as the restrictions are lifted.

“We would particularly like clarity on what local authorities are to do with people with no recourse to public funds who have been housed during lockdown but would ordinarily not be accommodated.”

Greenwich Council housed 61 rough sleepers due to the scheme.

It comes as the authority’s new finance and resources cabinet member warned the council faced running out of money by the end of the year if additional financial support from the Government wasn’t forthcoming.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting of cabinet, Cllr Chris Kirby said he had “real concerns about the way the government have moved the goalposts when it comes to guaranteeing funding for local authorities”.

“We’ve gone from money is no object – to inferences we’re on a splurge and spending money on things we don’t really need to be spending money on, which is absolutely incredible given the commitment that local government has made during this crisis.”

He said Government assumptions that councils would go back to operating in a “pre-Covid 19 financial world” from July is “just absolutely in the realms of fantasy”.

He said emergency grants received from the Government in March and April – totalling £17,114,180 for Greenwich – was due to run out in late June or early July.

“There needs to be additional tranches of funding from central Government or councils up and down the country, not just us, will be dipping into reserve,” he said, adding that Greenwich reserves “will not last the rest of the year” if relied upon.