Government must get serious about tackling homelessness crisis
Homelessness and rough sleeping are not inevitable in a country as decent and well-off as Britain, writes Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley.
Yet since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled.
I believe these figures are a terrible reminder of eight years of failure on housing which has seen a steep drop in investment for new affordable homes with billions of pounds cut from housing benefit, inaction on short-term lets, soaring rents in the private rented sector and significant cuts to funding for homelessness services.
The charity Crisis has described the rise in rough sleeping as a ‘catastrophe’ and is calling for urgent action from the Government.
If ministers are serious about tackling this crisis, I believe they should back the Opposition’s plans to make 8,000 affordable homes immediately available for people with a history of sleeping on the streets and safeguard hostels and other supported housing from cuts to housing benefit.
At the election I stood on a manifesto which included commitments to build one million genuinely affordable homes to give those on low incomes more options for a place to stay.
More widely, action is required to tackle the root causes of homelessness.
I support ending the current practice of ‘no fault’ evictions and action to strengthen tenants’ rights by bringing forward a consumer rights revolution for renters.
This would ensure more secure tenancies, new legal minimum standards and controls on rent rises.
Ministers have said they will publish a rough sleeping strategy by July with a view to ending rough sleeping by 2027.
This is not good enough and I will press the Government at every opportunity to take immediate action to help the thousands of people forced to sleep dangerously.