pounds 3m to aid rough sleepers

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The Independent Online
Rough-Sleepers outside London will be offered new help from the Government in an initiative to be announced tomorrow. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, will open a pounds 3m fund to which councils will be able to apply.

The move follows last week's launch by Peter Mandelson, the Minister without Portfolio, of the Government's new unit to tackle social exclusion. Originally the money had only been available to some councils in the capital, because London was seen as the area of highest concentration of homelessness.

In June the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions opened the scheme to 12 areas, including Manchester, Nottingham and Brighton. Tomorrow Mr Prescott will highlight the Government's deter- mination to combat homelessness in all parts of the country.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "It is unacceptable that people should have to sleep on the streets. This is one of the manifestations of social exclusion. I am determined to achieve our aim of ensuring that rough-sleeping is unnecessary. The pounds 3m I am making available nationally is a further step in reaching this goal."

The Prime Minister underlined his concern over "social exclusion" when, soon after his election victory, he visited a south London housing estate.

The new social exclusion unit will prioritise improvements in the country's 1,300 worst estates, which are said to house about three million people. Its activities will be co-ordinated by Mr Mandelson and one of the Cabinet Office's most senior civil servants, Robin Young.

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