"Labour will end homelessness" — John Healey MP

WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey has pledged that Labour will end homelessness, saying it was “not inevitable” in a country like the UK.

Branding the problem of rough sleeping a “national shame”, Mr Healry said a Labour government would double the number of homes “ring-fenced” for people who have slept on the streets.

Under Labour's plan, 4,000 permanent new reserved flats or houses would be created, and a scheme providing housing for the formerly homeless in London extended beyond the capital. 

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In addition to setting up new “clearing house”schemes in cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester, Mr Healey also wants to see Ministers backing charities to expand street outreach teams for people sleeping rough.

The shadow housing minister 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.

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“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.”

Mr Healey said the last Labour government had worked hard to cut rough sleeping but the number of homeless had 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,” he said.

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Mr Healey said that since a change in the law in 2011, homeless people were increasingly housed in insecure private rented homes, making it more likely that they would end up back on the streets.

Figures show the number of rough sleepers has doubled — with 3,569 people recorded in 2015 under a new annual measure introduced in 2010 — although charities say the true number is probably much higher.

The Government announced a new £40 million programme in October pledging to provide an innovative approach to tackling homelessness.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the aim was to focus on the underlying issues which can lead to somebody losing their home.

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A new £10 million rough sleeping prevention fund will be set up and homeless people will be offered help in finding a job and education, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Local authorities will also be able to tap into £20 million for local authorities to trial new initiatives aimed at preventing homelessness in their areas and a £10 million Social Impact Bond programme has also been launched “to help long-term rough sleepers address underlying issues such as poor mental health or substance abuse to help stop them from living on, and returning to, the streets.”

The Prime Minister said: “We know there is no single cause of homelessness but I am determined to do more to prevent it happening by supporting those facing challenging issues like domestic abuse, addiction, mental health issues or redundancy, whilst also being prepared to offer a safety net to catch those who might simply be struggling to get by.”