Rough sleeping
Rough sleeping

There has been a 165% increase in rough sleepers after the Tories took over in 2010. Local authorities estimated around 4,677 people slept rough on a single night last autumn.

London saw a 13% increase with 1,283 sleeping on the streets.

People aren’t just living on our streets in greater numbers, shamefully they’re dying there too, with official statistics showing 726 people died homeless last year, up 50% in just five years.

Centrepoint said their research shows over 100,000 16-24 year olds asked for help last year because they were homeless or at risk.

The combination of spiralling rents, a faulty benefits system and lack of social housing, means the number of people forced to sleep rough has risen dramatically since 2010.

Local authorities warned that preventing rough sleeping is ‘becoming increasingly difficult’, citing a homelessness services funding gap of more than £100 million in 2019/20. Over 700 homeless people in England and Wales died the last year – a 24 percent rise over the past five years. Life expectancy is almost half that of people in stable housing, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

This hasn’t happened by accident, just as it’s no coincidence that every Conservative government leaves our country with higher homelessness. The huge increase in people living and dying on our streets is directly the result of decisions taken by Conservative ministers, most with Liberal Democrat support.

  • Since 2010, the Conservatives have taken £1bn out of local homelessness services. There are now almost 9,000 fewer hostel beds.
  • They’ve slashed funding for social housing. The number of government-funded homes for social rent has fallen by 90% to fewer than 1,000 last year.
  • And they’ve cut housing benefit to the bone, which has led to higher homelessness.

Labour has a plan to end this national shame

  • Funding to help people sleeping rough, and a task force to make sure no-one has to sleep on our country’s streets within five years
  • New emergency shelters and support in every area with £100m of emergency funding.
  • A new modern hostels fund for good quality supported accommodation to take people off the streets and help them rebuild their lives
  • A hostels transformation fund to turn existing hostels into places where the homeless can turn their lives around.
  • £1bn to replace the funding for council homelessness services cut since 2010, for street outreach teams and vital staff and support.
  • 8,000 homes for those with a history of sleeping rough. Half of these will be additional ‘housing first’ homes to get some rough sleepers straight off the streets and into permanent housing The remainder ring-fenced for rough sleepers moving out of hostel accommodation to stop the ‘bed blocking’ that now exists where people are ready to rebuild their lives but have nowhere affordable to go.

The contrast with the Tories couldn’t be clearer: The Conservative manifesto is ‘business as usual’ with not a penny of new funding for housing or homelessness, no plan for change, and no hope for those at the sharp end of the housing crisis.

Rising homelessness isn’t inevitable in a country as decent and well off as ours, and no voter in this election should accept Conservative excuses that make high and rising homelessness sound like bad winter weather: unfortunate but beyond our control to fix.

If we win a Labour Government on 12 December, we’ll set to work on day one to save lives and end rough sleeping for good.

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