I support housing charity St. Mungo’s call for a new national rough sleeping strategy to remove the need for anyone to sleep on the streets and effectively end rough sleeping.
The number of people sleeping rough fell by three-quarters from 1997-2010. However, it has doubled since 2010. Across England homelessness has risen by 50 per cent in the last two years. These figures show that rough sleeping can be tackled, if the political will exists to do so.
The Tory government should be setting out how it will end rough sleeping, starting by doubling the number of homes reserved for people who have slept on the streets. Instead, the housing White Paper, published in February, contains unconvincing measures that will do nothing to reverse seven years of failure on housing since 2010.
The government’s decision to remove the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for 18 to 21 year-olds risks making thousands of young people homeless. The government claims this change is about levelling the playing field between young people who are employed, and those who are out of work. However, young people will now be denied the same basic right as other British adults to receive help with housing costs.
At the General Election in June I stood on a manifesto that pledged a new national plan to end rough sleeping within this parliament, starting by making 4,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping.
I support action to tackle the root causes of homelessness and I believe the government should halt its proposals to change the way supported and sheltered housing is funded, which charities, housing associations and councils have said will lead to the closure of homelessness hostels and other vital housing for some of the most vulnerable people in the country.