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Cash boost to tackle migrant homelessness

A project to tackle migrant homelessness in Fenland and the impact it has on communities has been given the go ahead after almost £90,000 of government funding was approved.

Fenland District Council has been awarded £86,400 from the Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) following an announcement by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday, July 20.

Mr Javid announced grants totalling £15 million to local councils to help ease pressures on services such as housing, schooling and health services resulting from recent migration.

Fenland District Council is using its funding to launch a new Migrant Outreach Service by autumn. The project will work with migrants threatened with homelessness or who are already sleeping rough, with the aim of reducing the problem and preventing people from returning to the streets with the right advice and support.

It will also respond to the concerns of local communities about migrants sleeping rough and related issues of employer and landlord exploitation.

The two-year project will include the employment of a full-time migrant outreach worker who will engage with migrants facing homelessness, often when they are no longer required for work and either told to leave or are removed from their homes.

The role will also see collaborative working with the council's housing team to explore accommodation options, benefits advice and deposits and tackle illegal eviction and harassment.

Councillor Mike Cornwell, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Cohesion, was delighted the council's bid to the CMF had been granted.

He said: "The Migrant Outreach Service will build trust and confidence with the migrant population and help identify where our support is needed.

"It will also enhance a lot of good work already happening in Fenland such as Operation Pheasant, a multi-agency project tackling migrant exploitation, helping to ensure issues relating to HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) continue to be addressed."

Announcing the CMF grants, Mr Javid said: "Migration brings great benefits to this country but, in some places, significant population changes in a short space of time have put pressures on public services.

"This new funding will help councils rise to the challenge in a variety of ways - whether that's tackling the small minority of rogue landlords who damage neighbourhoods with overcrowded properties, providing English language classes to make sure migrants can better integrate and understand their rights and responsibilities or boosting the number of teaching assistants in schools to ensure all children get excellent teaching."

Lord Bourne, Minister for Faith, added: "Local councils have clearly drawn on their knowledge of their areas to submit strong proposals.

"This funding will help provide practical solutions for local communities so that councils can improve services for everyone. We will keep a keen eye on progress and make sure other councils can learn from their experiences to see what works best."

The grants announced today are the first allocations of the CMF. Launched in November last year, the fund allows local authorities in England to bid for funding totalling £100 million over four years from 2016/17 to 2019/20.

Article added: July 20, 2017