COUNCILS across East Lancashire have been tasked with housing all rough sleepers over the weekend in order to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

The move is part of a nationwide campaign by the Government to ensure that local authorities across the UK include homeless people in their lockdowns.

This will also include those living in hostels and night shelters.

A spokesperson for the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are working intensively with councils and the sector to get everyone who is sleeping rough off the streets and into appropriate accommodation – backed by £1.6billion of additional funding for councils to respond to pressures during this national emergency.

“This is a huge joint effort and we all need to come together – including councils, charities, health and care services and accommodation providers – to protect rough sleepers from the virus and ensure councils have the support and crucially the accommodation they need to make this happen.”

In addition to the £1.6bn, the Government is also providing £3.2m of targeted funding to local authorities in an effort help them enable rough sleepers to self-isolate.

The funding will help authorities provide accommodation for homeless people and will also help them to improve adult social care and services that care for the vulnerable.

The ministry has written to local authorities to co-ordinate these efforts.

The email, seen by homeless charity Crisis, reads: “As you know, this is a public health emergency.

“We are all redoubling our efforts to do what we possibly can at this stage to ensure that everybody is inside and safe by this weekend, and we stand with you in this.

“These are unusual times so I’m asking for an unusual effort.

“Many areas of the country have already been able to ‘safe harbour’ their people which is incredible.

“What we need to do now though is work out how we can get ‘everyone in’.”

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “Questions remain about how local councils will be supported to do this, and whether additional funding, or assistance securing hotel rooms, will be made available.

“We also need to see a package of support so that, when the outbreak subsides, the outcome is not that people return to the streets,” Mr Sparkes added.

“The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping by 2025 – this proves it can be done in 2020 if we make it the priority it deserves to be.”