ROUGH sleeping across Wiltshire has dropped by 52 per cent since the  Rough Sleeper Outreach Team was introduced in 2018.

In 2018 the council bid for funds from the national Rough Sleepers Initiative and was granted £312,245 for 2018/19 and £305,491 for 2019/20.

A group of councillors tasked with investigating homelessness found that no hotels or bed and breakfasts had to be used by Wiltshire Council as temporary housing, because people were able to go to the accommodation run by the rough sleeper outreach team.

However funding for the team is due to run out in 2020, and future cash has not been confirmed.

Across the county there are centres in Chippenham, Salisbury and Trowbridge.

Cllr Steve Oldrieve said: “Outreach centres have made a difference since being established and it is imperative it continues.”

Cabinet member for housing, Richard Clewer said: “For the vast bulk of people, we find housing for them.

"Our work with extra outreach has seen a significant reduction in the number of people sleeping rough.

"People end up sleeping on street for number of reasons and you can’t correlate that to addiction, mental health, army or debt issues, it tends to be several issues.”

However increasing numbers of veterans are applying for help after becoming homeless, and the figure could rise as the rebasing programme continues, according to a Wiltshire Council report.

A report into homelessness in the county found that while the amount of rough sleepers had fallen by 52 per cent, there had been a spike in veterans turning to the council for emergency help.

As thousands of service people continue to return from serving abroad there is likely to be more veterans in need to emergency housing.

Families of personnel who have had a relationship breakdown or bereavement may also need mere support, the committee heard.

Cllr John Smale said: “The Ministry of Defence keep in touch those still serving. Many like to sleep out rough in summer, other have issues with mental health or other issues. We need to include the Ministry of Defence work with our work with the military to ensure they are looked after.”