Wednesday 11 November 2020 / 2:43 PM Thangam Debbonaire

Government has turned its back on rough sleepers this winter – Thangam Debbonaire

The Government has abandoned its commitment to protect rough sleepers during a second lockdown that will be colder and more dangerous than the first.

In response to Labour’s urgent question in the Commons, the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing refused to explain why the Conservatives are not repeating efforts to ensure everyone is brought “inside and safe”. Instead of calling for ‘everyone in’, the Housing Secretary is only asking councils to “consider time limited interventions” for those newly sleeping rough, and is only offering funding to 10 local authorities.

The Minister appeared confused by the Government’s protections for renters, claiming that “evictions will not be taking place until January”. Rather than re-starting the ban on evictions that was in place in the first lockdown, the Government has only requested that bailiffs not enforce them, which will mean tenants will continue to receive eviction notices over Christmas.

The Minister also refused to publish the Public Health England advice she had received to support the Government’s controversial decision to open communal night shelters. Seventeen leading health and homelessness organisations, include the British Medical Association and the Faculty of Public Health, wrote to the Prime Minister warning of ‘risk to life’, saying: “Despite the best efforts of shelters to adhere to social distancing, they are designed as communal spaces which makes social distancing and self-isolation extremely difficult.”

Thangam Debbonaire MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said:

“This winter will be colder and potentially more dangerous than the first lockdown, with nowhere near the same protection for people sleeping rough.

“It is disgraceful that the Government is turning its back on rough sleepers at a time when they need the most help.”