Fran Boait is marking World Homeless Day today (Thursday 10 October) by highlighting the Conservatives’ shameful record on homelessness and calling on Boris Johnson to back Labour’s plans to end the scandal of people sleeping on our streets. Fran will also be joining the Sleep Out at Kingsholm Stadium hosted by Gloucester City Mission to help raise funds for the charity.
Since the Conservatives took office in 2010:
- the number of people sleeping rough on park benches and in shop doorways has more than doubled, to almost 5,000 people on any given night,
- the number of people dying homeless has risen by 51% in the last five years alone to 726 last year, and
- the number of children homeless in temporary accommodation has risen by 69% to over 126,000.
In Gloucester, whilst there are only 14 official rough sleepers, charities working with the homeless put that statistic much higher. 88 families with children are stuck living in temporary accommodation. There are well over 5,000 people registered on housing waiting list.
During Labour’s time in Government between 1997 and 2010, the independent Homeless Monitor recorded an “unprecedented” decline in homelessness. However, since 2010, homelessness has risen relentlessly as a direct result of the Conservatives slashing investment in new affordable homes, cutting funding to councils and homeless charities, reducing housing benefit, and refusing to regulate a growing and unaffordable private rented sector.
Labour has set out a plan to tackle the crisis of rising homelessness:
- commit to ending rough sleeping within five years, with a national taskforce led by Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister,
- provide a new £100m fund to allow every person sleeping rough access to emergency winter accommodation,
- make 8,000 additional homes available for people with a history of rough sleeping, and
- act to tackle the root causes of homelessness by investing to build a million low-cost homes over a decade and giving renters stronger rights.
Fran Boait, commenting on these figures, said:
“High and rising homelessness is not inevitable in a country as rich as ours.
“Homelessness fell at an unprecedented rate with Labour but has soared under the Tories since 2010.
“This is a direct result of shameful Conservative decisions to slash investment for affordable homes, cut back housing benefit, reduce funding for homelessness services, and deny protection to private renters.
“The next Labour Government will end rough sleeping within a Parliament and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with more genuinely affordable homes and stronger rights for renters, and better funding for mental health services.”
Notes to editors
- Details on World Homeless Day are available here: http://www.worldhomelessday.org/.
- In the 2015 Conservative manifesto, the Tories pledged to be judged on how they ‘care for the weakest and most vulnerable’:
“We measure our success not just in how we show our strength abroad, but in how we care for the weakest and most vulnerable at home.”
Conservative Party Manifesto 2015, p. 81
- In their 2017 the Tories promised to ‘continue to combat homelessness’:
“we will continue to combat homelessness and rough sleeping”
Conservative Party Manifesto 2017,p. 58
- Figures on rough sleeping, which are a snapshot on one given night in the autumn each year, are available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/775036/RS_STATS_2018_LiveTables.xlsx.
- Figures on the deaths of people who are homeless are available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/deathsofhomelesspeopleinenglandandwales/current/2018deathsofhomelesspeopleinenglandandwales1.xls.
- Figures on homeless households housed in temporary accommodation are available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/831061/TA_201903.xlsx.
- The independent Homeless Monitor, produced for the homeless charity, Crisis is available here. It records an “unprecedented” decline in headline homelessness under Labour: https://www.crisis.org.uk/media/237049/the_homelessness_monitor_england_2011.pdf.