Kerry McCarthy Labour MP for Bristol East
I am shocked that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has claimed that the rise in homelessness is not the fault of the Government. It’s not a coincidence that since 2010 the number of people sleeping rough has skyrocketed, and this is a direct consequence of Government failure to address the issue. The last Labour Government almost totally eradicated rough sleeping, under Tony Blair’s “Coming in from the Cold” initiative, and it is so sad to see people back sleeping on the streets, particularly at this time of year.
The number of new social homes being built, where people at risk of being made homeless are most likely to be housed, has fallen by almost 90% under the Conservatives – under Labour in 2009/2010 39,500 social homes were built, but by 2017/2018 this figure had fallen to only 1,400 homes. The Minister also blames issues like an addiction for causing people to be forced to sleep rough, whilst forgetting to mention that his Government has been slashing funding for drug and alcohol addiction services! Welfare cuts and sanctions, and underfunded mental health services are also having an impact.
If the Government is serious about tackling rough sleeping it should back Labour’s £100m plan to give every rough sleeper somewhere to stay during winter, and properly resource the services that provide support to people rough sleeping and those at risk of homelessness.