As you know, homelessness is not inevitable in a country as decent and well-off as ours. The scale of homelessness under the Tories is a mark of national shame and symbolic of eight years of failure on housing and austerity across all our public services. Since 2010 the number of people sleeping rough in shop doorways and on park benches has more than doubled. This shames us all.
Between 2010 and 2015 the Tories have cut funding to homeless services by 45%. The number of children in temporary accommodation has risen to over 120,000 – an increase of 67% since 2010. 60,000 homeless households are in temporary accommodation and “in priority need”.
There can be no excuses – it must end.
The Government have pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and to end it by 2027. They have committed more than £1.2 billion to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. Unfortunately, the spiralling rise in street homelessness results directly from decisions made by the Conservatives on pay, housing, mental health and social security.
Under the Tories, the building of new social rented homes are now at the lowest level since records began. Home ownership is down, with a million fewer households, under 45, owning their own home than in 2010, the lowest rate of home ownership in a generation. The number of new low cost homes to but has halved since 2010.
A Labour Government would set out a new national plan to end rough sleeping within the next Parliament, starting by making available 8,000 additional homes reserved for people with a history of rough sleeping. We would build affordable homes, to buy and rent, for families across the country who are in need. We will build at least a million new homes, including 100,000 genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent, and we would also take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from crude Conservative cuts to housing benefit.
I can assure you that tackling homelessness and rough sleeping is a priority for me and the Labour Party and would certainly be at the heart of our programme for the Government and I will keep pushing the current Government to do much more to tackle homelessness.