YORK council has got £200,000 in extra government money to help people sleeping on the streets.

The money has come from a £30 million national pot announced by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire earlier this week.

City of York bid for and was awarded £193,555, and yesterday council workers confirmed the one-year grant would fund outreach workers, a specialist mental health worker, and potentially more pioneering “Housing First” work to get people with complicated needs into their own homes.

Tim Carroll, the city council’s housing options manager, said: “It’s quite exciting, and it’s going to be challenging, but it’s something we are definitely up for.”

Official rough sleeper figures from November last year showed 29 people sleeping on the streets in York, but day-to-day checks during the “Beast from the East” found just six.

The funding announcement comes as the city council publishes its new homelessness strategy for the next five years. The new plan looks at rough sleeping but also works on preventing people becoming homeless in the first place, or needing temporary accommodation.

According to city council figures, there are currently 49 “homeless households” in the city - the lowest number since records began in 2004. None are in B&B accommodation, and Mr Carroll said cutting that out had helped York get a “Gold Standard” for its homelessness work.

The council has worked with other homelessness organisations in York in the strategy and Barrie Stephenson, chairman of the city’s homelessness forum, said long-term solutions need people to work together.

“While public attitudes to homelessness and rough sleeping often blame both the choices of the individuals or the lack of provision by the council, evidence shows two trends are largely responsible: a shortage of affordable housing and the impact of welfare reforms. There is much to do.”

Council chiefs have hinted that more work could soon be done on wider housing problems in York, with plans for the council to start developing some if its own property into new affordable homes.

They also said the strategy deals with begging, and York being seen as a tourist city and a lucrative place to beg.

Anecdotal evidence says as many of 70 per cent of street beggars in York are not sleeping rough, council staff said, and for those who are giving money can make problems worse.

Assistant Director of Housing Tom Brittain said: “Giving people money when they are rough sleeping to some extent perpetuates what you are trying to avoid.

“You don’t know how that money will be spent, and I’m not suggesting it’s always misused but there is evidence it’s being spent on alcohol and drugs.”

Instead, the authority is trying to find easier ways for people to give to charities that work with homeless people in York, he added.

The grant announcement has prompted questions from opposition Labour councillors.

Cllr Margaret Wells, the party’s housing spokesman, has pointed to an increase in the number of rough sleepers in York and called for the government to show a long-term commitment to tackling homelessness.

She said: “Any money to support rough sleeping is to be welcomed but it’s difficult to see this in a positive light when as a local council you’ve had over 30 per cent cut from your budget over the years by Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Government.”

Cuts have made supporting vulnerable people very difficult, she said, and granting money for one year is a “short term, politically reactive approach” not the long term work that is needed.

“It also reflects a Whitehall knows best approach, with resources consistently pulled back by Government and then handed out piecemeal, rather than entrusting local councils to use local knowledge and expertise to address local issues they best understand,” Cllr Wells added.