Rough sleepers in Cornwall flown as far as the US

By Johnny O'Shea
BBC News

  • Published
Rough sleeperImage source, PA
Image caption,
Sixteen rough sleepers have been relocated from Cornwall to 12 countries since 2012

Rough sleepers have been given one-way international tickets by a council to return home.

Cornwall Council has given overseas coach and plane tickets to 16 homeless men since 2012, as part of a scheme to reconnect them with their families.

One man was flown to South Africa and another to the US at a cost of £460 per ticket, paid for by the government.

In total, more than £2,500 has been spent on overseas reconnections from Cornwall, the BBC has learned.

A Freedom of Information request shows most of the relocations have been to eastern Europe, including to Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Latvia.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "We're giving councils £315m to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in their area up to 2020.

"It is up to local authorities to decide how they use the funding to help the most vulnerable people in their area."

Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at the Crisis homelessness charity, said international reconnection can work in some cases.

However, he added: "We also work with homeless people from outside the UK for whom reconnection is not the right option.

"For some, the prospect of reconnection means destitution or personal danger, and in these circumstances local councils should consider other options for helping people."

Cornwall Council said: "No one is reconnected without partners knowing that accommodation and support is waiting for them. They are not just returned to live on the streets in another area."

A recent BBC investigation for the Victoria Derbyshire programme revealed a number of councils in England provide one-way train tickets for reconnections within the UK.

From Cornwall, 165 rough sleepers have been relocated at a cost of more than £12,000 since the reconnection scheme started in 2012.

This includes the 16 people who have been reconnected overseas.

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