Fewer than a quarter of homeless people helped at the start of the pandemic have been given settled accommodation, figures suggest.
Thousands of rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness were rapidly brought to safety at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak through the government’s Everyone In scheme.
According to the government, 37,000 people have been helped under the initiative.
Council responses to a freedom of information request by the charity Shelter suggest 23 per cent of those helped had moved into settled accommodation – somewhere they could stay for at least six months – as of February.
More than a fifth (22 per cent) were still living in emergency accommodation, such as hostels and B&Bs, 18 per cent were in supported living and 5 per cent had reconnected with family and friends.
Twenty-three per cent were no longer being accommodated in any form, which could mean they have returned to the streets or are sofa surfing, according to the responses from 234 local authorities.
The government said the analysis is “misleading” and 26,000 people have already moved into longer-term accommodation.
Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said the country opening up after Covid restrictions “isn’t an excuse to forget about homeless people”.
She said: “We’re gravely concerned that with funding for Everyone In running out, and councils returning to ‘business as usual’, we will see people forced out on to the streets.
“It would be a travesty if we allowed rough sleeping to slide back to pre-pandemic levels. The government needs to get a grip on this situation urgently and look at what comes next.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local government said: “We do not recognise these incomplete figures and the analysis is misleading, as it does not take into account those who have moved into supported housing or who have been reconnected with family and friends.
“The ongoing Everyone In programme has been widely recognised as a considerable success and as of January this year, 37,000 people are in safe and secure accommodation as a result of this effort, including 26,000 already moved into longer-term accommodation.
“We will build on the progress made by providing over £750 million this year to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping as part of the commitment to end rough sleeping during this Parliament.”