WINTER night shelters for the homeless in Southend will only be used as a last resort - as it’s revealed 80 per cent of rough sleepers are in accommodation.

The Government said this week night shelters could re-open ahead of the onset of bad weather but with safety measures agreed with councils.

Southend Council say 80 per cent of rough sleepers remain in permanent accommodation following the efforts to get people off the streets during Covid-19 lockdown.

It says it hopes to continue this work without the use of the shelters.

Daniel Cauchi, president of the St Vincent de Paul charity, has helped organise the night shelters in previous years.

He said: “There are Government guidelines that outline ways that they could go ahead with lots of changes.

“We are looking to discuss this with the council and other homeless group to determine the need in Southend.

“We do need to know what the council plans to do as the guidelines do discuss the local council meeting with those involved to outline the way forward. As we are determine to see a clear plan mapped out to ensure that those in need have shelter.”

Those who run the shelters in the borough’s churches last week expressed concern that the shelters would not be able to re-open as winter approaches but now they are seeking clarification.

Ian Gilbert, leader of the council with a responsibility for housing, said: “Our housing solutions and rough sleeper teams have worked tirelessly since March to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of rough sleepers, so much so that we are pleased to announce that more than 80 per cent of former rough sleepers with a Southend connection, are now living in permanent accommodation.

“This is such a positive position, we are concentrating our efforts on maintaining the excellent outcomes achieved by continuing to provide support to former rough sleepers and finding homes for those who remain in temporary accommodation but still wish to be housed permanently.”

He added that following Government guidance they would only use night shelters as a last resort. They have five single Covid-safe rooms, with individual washing facilities available via HARP.