Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Bid to clear homelessness by 2012

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Government pledge on sleepers

Ministers have unveiled plans to end homelessness in London by 2012 as part of a £200m strategy.

Plans include assisting single people with deposits on rented property and a 24-hour helpline to report concerns about homeless people.

The government admitted it was a "tough challenge" but called on members of the public to play a part.

It comes amid fears the economic downturn could force more people from their homes.

'More compassion'

The government's strategy, developed with a number of homelessness charities, also plans more supported lodgings for those at risk and bigger "street rescue" support teams.

"Personal achievable action plans" would also be developed to help homeless people get back into employment.

Minister Iain Wright said: "We can all do our bit, and whether we get involved on the ground or simply show more compassion for those in need, we can look back on rough sleeping as something that used to happen, not something that does happen."

Homelessness charity Crisis said it welcomed the government's acceptance of measures it had been urging for 12 months.

Chief executive Leslie Morphy said: "In the current economic crisis, with people losing their homes and jobs and facing potential homelessness, it is more important than ever that the government takes action to end rough sleeping."

Last week charity St Mungo's revealed more than one in eight people feared being made homeless by falling behind on mortgage or rent payments.

It also found that 93% of people using its London hostels became homeless in part due to financial pressures.

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