I understand your concern about this Act and its provisions for rough sleepers. Let me assure you that the Government remains strongly committed to ending rough sleeping once and for all.
Under the 2018 Cross-Government Rough Sleeping Strategy the Government pledged to review legislation around homelessness and rough sleeping to ensure the best measures are in place. This includes the Vagrancy Act, which the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has noted is a particularly complex issue. As a piece of legislation that is almost 200 years old, it is right that the Government considers whether it is still fit for purpose.
As you may be aware, the Government has introduced an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will repeal the Act in full in England and Wales. My ministerial colleagues tell me that the repeal will take effect once more modern, fit-for-purpose replacement legislation is in place. I believe it is only right that any measures balance providing essential support for the vulnerable with the importance of ensuring that the ability of the police to protect communities is not adversely affected. It is also encouraging to learn that a new strategy to end rough sleeping will be laid out to prevent rough sleeping and ensure it is effectively responded to in the rare cases where it does occur.
This will build on substantial progress already made to help vulnerable people off the street for good. It is encouraging to learn that the number of rough sleepers has fallen in every region of England, taking levels in 2021 to an eight-year low overall. Work continues apace, with the Government committing £433 million to the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme in the largest-ever investment in longer-term move on accommodation for this group. This will provide some of the most vulnerable in society with a place to live and help to rebuild their lives.