Warrington Guardian Column – Faisal Rashid | Rough Sleeping

Rough sleeping in England has reached its highest level this decade.

In Warrington we have bucked the trend with a reduction in the number of rough sleepers.

Nationally however, the picture is bleak.

The number of people sleeping rough fell under Labour, yet under the Conservatives it has more than doubled since 2010. The number of children in hostels and other temporary accommodation has risen by 70% to over 120,000.

Under the Conservatives we have seen a drop in investment for affordable homes, cuts to housing benefit, and a refusal to help private renters.

This is a shameful record and a stark reminder of the consequences of a Conservative Government.

And this crisis extends beyond our streets.

“In Westminster, I met with children from the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, many of whom had experienced homelessness or lived in temporary housing such as B&Bs.  Worryingly, the number of families living in temporary accommodation has more than doubled in 3 years”

A failure to build enough affordable public housing means that more people are now forced to live in the private rented sector and this together with Conservative Government cuts to welfare means that housing benefit fails to cover rent in many areas.

Urgent Government action is needed to address the structural causes of homelessness and rough sleeping.

In Government, Labour would ensure that tackling these issues becomes a key priority – ending rough sleeping within our first term in office, and tackling the root causes of rising homelessness.

Jeremy Corbyn recently announced that a Labour Government will make 8,000 affordable homes available for people with a history of sleeping on the streets. He has made it clear that we will strike a deal with housing associations to make the homes available immediately as they fall vacant, and fund the replacements via Labour’s national housing programme.

The new homes would be a mix of ‘move-on’ housing for people leaving homelessness hostels and ‘housing first’ – a relatively new type of programme established in the US and northern Europe, where rough sleepers with complex needs are moved into permanent accommodation quickly to give them a fresh start.

A Labour government would put a stop to the national homelessness scandal and provide those who need it most with a home.

As my colleague, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, John Healey, has said:

“You can’t help the homeless if you don’t provide the homes.”

You can read the full Labour Press Release by clicking here

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