Sunday 28 January 2018 / 10:06 AM Housing / John Healey

Labour announces 8,000 new homes for rough sleepers in fresh pledge to end rough sleeping

In a fresh policy to tackle the scandal of soaring rough sleeping, Labour has announced today it will make 8,000 affordable homes available for people with a history of sleeping on the streets – double the number previously promised. This new measure is part of Labour’s plan to end rough sleeping within their first term in office.

Under the plans, the next Labour government will strike a deal with housing associations – similar to that done by the Conservative over the right-to-buy – to make the homes available immediately as they fall vacant, and fund the replacements via Labour’s national housing programme. In this way, the homes for rough sleepers will become available much more quickly than if they were built from scratch.

This announcement comes as figures this week have revealed that rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010.

The Government could start this now and fund replacements using some of the £2bn set aside for social housing by the Prime Minister at Conservative Party conference last year.

The new homes would be a mix of ‘move-on’ housing for people leaving homelessness hostels and ‘housing first’ – a relatively new type of programme established in the US and northern Europe, where rough sleepers with complex needs are moved into permanent accommodation quickly to give them a fresh start.

This ambitious programme contrasts with the government’s approach:

  • A target only to halve rough sleeping by 2022, which even if successful would still leave it above levels the Conservatives inherited in 2010
  • No plan to tackle homelessness, as recently exposed by the National Audit Office
  • A Budget commitment to only pilot ‘housing first’ schemes, despite overwhelming evidence that they work

Homelessness has rapidly risen since 2010:

  • Rough sleeping has more than doubled and is up 73% in the last three years alone
  • The number of children stuck in hostels and other temporary accommodation has risen by 70% to over 120,000

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing John Healey MP said:

“The rising number of people sleeping on the streets and on park benches shames us all. There can be no excuses – we can end it and we must.

“Homelessness shames us all but should shame Conservative Ministers most. It is direct consequence of decisions made by the Tories on housing, and on funding for charities and councils.

“Under the last Labour government, years of sustained action cut rough sleeping by three-quarters, but it has more than doubled since 2010.

“You can’t help the homeless if you don’t provide the homes. A Labour government would put a stop to this national scandal and provide those who need it most with a place to call home.

“If Theresa May is serious about fixing our rough sleeping crisis, she should back Labour’s plans to make more homes available for the homeless.”