In Brief

Justin Welby: churches should house rough sleepers

Archbishop of Canterbury says budget cuts have left councils unable to help homeless

The head of the Church of England has called on churches to accommodate and feed rough sleepers, as councils struggle to cope with the homelessness crisis.

In an interview with Canterbury Christ Church University news website Unified, Archbishop Justin Welby said budget cuts have left local authorities unable to support those living on the street.

Calling on more churches to help by opening their doors to rough sleepers, Welby said: “There’s a nationwide scheme... where churches get together in groups of seven, and each church will take one night a week.

“It’s one of the major contributions the churches make in this country: food banks, night shelters, debt counselling, those are the three great social engagement areas.”

“Councils have suffered such cuts in their spending capacity that they are really struggling to meet a whole range of needs,” he added.

The number of people sleeping rough in England has hit a record high, according to government data.

On any given night in autumn last year, 4,751 people were sleeping on the streets - more than double the number in 2010, when the Conservatives came to power, The Independent reports.

Only 5% of Church of England churches provided a night shelter for rough sleepers in 2017, The Guardian says, citing a recent report from the C of E’s Church Urban Fund.

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