It is deeply concerning that homelessness and rough sleeping have both risen sharply since 2010, and that there has been a big increase in the number of families living in temporary accommodation. Indeed, while homelessness fell by 70% under the previous Labour Government, all forms of homelessness have risen since 2010, and rough sleeping has increased by 55% in the last five years.
The government need to urgently address this and to tackle the root causes of homelessness. In particular, the Government need to address their chronic failure to build the number of affordable homes we need to rent or buy.
Councils up and down the country are already facing serious pressures on local services in light of recent funding settlements, and there is particular concern about this in the build up to the Government’s Spending Review – where unprotected departments such as local government may face spending cuts of up to 40%.
Organisations such as Crisis have particularly emphasised how important it is that the Homelessness Prevention Fund is protected in the Spending Review. This Fund was introduced to help local authorities provide important support to those at risk of becoming homeless and to prevent the longer term costs that can stem from homelessness.
In spite of these cuts, Liverpool City Council continues to support the homeless in the city, spending £12.4 million a year – more than any other core city.
However, it isn’t enough. The Government need to be doing far more, not less, to help local authorities prevent homelessness and to reduce the long-term social and financial costs of homelessness. I hope, therefore, that they will recognise the importance of this Fund during the Spending Review and work with organisations such as Crisis to help ensure there is the long-term focus and funding that is needed on this extremely important issue.