John Healey: Labour will end the “national shame” of rough sleeping

14th December, 2016 9:13 am

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Rising levels of rough sleeping must be brought to an end John Healey has said as he pledged that a Labour government would stop this “national shame”.

Levels of rough sleeping have doubled since 2010 and there have been recent reports of homeless people dying as a result of the cold in Manchester and Birmingham.

Now Labour has said its plan is to double the number of homes ring-fenced for use by the homeless – to 4,000. These houses or flats would be let at genuinely affordable rents. Since a 2011 law change, homeless people are increasingly housed in privately rented homes, which are often far less secure, meaning that they are more likely to end up back on the streets.

Healey, the shadow housing secretary, wants to see new clearing houses created in cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool – these are supported accommodation services for people with a history of rough sleeping.

The numbers of rough sleepers fell dramatically under the last Labour government, with only 464 recorded rough sleepers in 2010 as a result of various government initiatives.

Healey is also urging ministers to back charities in their outreach services, which would help them to expand these services which provide support to rough sleepers. He has written to the prime minister, challenging her government to support Labour’s plans to tackle homelessness.

Healey said: “Homelessness is not inevitable in a country as decent and well off as ours. This problem can be solved, but it demands a new national will to do so. The rapidly rising number of people sleeping in doorways and on park benches shames us all. There can be no excuses – it must end. Full stop.”

“This growing homelessness should shame the government most of all. The spiralling rise in street homelessness results directly from decisions made by Ministers since 2010 on housing, and on funding for charities and councils.”

“Under the last Labour government, years of sustained action brought rough sleeping right down, but it has doubled since 2010.”

“A Labour government would put a stop to this national shame and provide homeless people with a place to call home and rebuild their lives.”

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