Barbara Keeley MP

LABOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR WORSLEY AND ECCLES SOUTH

Homeless Reduction Bill

I am very concerned about rising homelessness and rough sleeping. While the number of people sleeping rough fell by three-quarters from 1997-2010, it has doubled since 2010. Across England homelessness has risen by 50% in the last two years alone.

These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of the Conservative Government's seven years of failure on housing: ending investment in new affordable rented homes; taking £5 billion from housing benefit and payments; inaction on short-term lets and soaring rents in the private rented sector; and overseeing deep cuts to funding for vital homelessness services.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill was considered in the House of Commons on 27th January 2017. I support the aims of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which would make a huge change to homelessness law, both through the emphasis placed on prevention and through new duties to assist non-priority groups, particularly single people, in finding accommodation. However, legislation alone will not cure the epidemic of homelessness and it is vital that the Conservative Government honours its promise to fund the costs of the Bill in full. I am disappointed that the funding announced so far will run out after two years.

The measures in the Bill must be the first step in a wider Government strategy to reverse rising homelessness. Ministers must also act now to build more affordable housing, give more security to private renters and re-think crude cuts to housing benefit.

The Government's long-promised housing white paper must set out how the Government will end the rough sleeping. We should start by doubling the number of homes reserved for people who have slept on the streets.

Unfortunately, I was not able to be in the House of Commons on 27 January. However, I will follow the progress of the Homelessness Reduction Bill closely and will continue to press the Conservative Government to do much more to tackle homelessness.

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