The Conservatives have been urged to follow through with a manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping and tackle homelessness, as new figures reveal that thousands of vulnerable people have slept rough on London’s streets over the last year.
Figures from the CHAIN Greater London report reveal that 8,108 people were seen rough sleeping in London in 2016-17, slightly higher than the previous year when 8,096 people were seen rough sleeping by outreach workers.
Theresa May pledged to “halve rough sleeping over the course of the parliament and eliminate it altogether by 2027” and create “a new homelessness reduction taskforce that will focus on prevention and affordable housing”.
Labour also pledged to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness, but also vowed to “take action to tackle the root causes of homelessness, including safeguarding homeless hostels and other supported housing from crude Conservative cuts to housing benefit”.
Housing and homelessness charity St. Mungos is now calling on the UK Government to adhere to its manifesto promise.
Dominic Williamson, St Mungo’s Executive Director of Strategy and Policy, said: “Rough sleeping is dangerous and the number of people experiencing this in our capital city and across the country is a real scandal.
“After the doubling of the figures since 2010-11, we are encouraged to see that the rapid increases in the number of people seen sleeping rough on the streets of London over the recent years seems to have slowed. However, the fact remains that 8,000 people slept rough on our streets last year.
“The CHAIN report highlights the amazing work done by outreach teams, No Second Night Out, hostels and other services to find people and help them off the streets as quickly as possible. We welcome the Mayor of London’s commitments to tackle the problem and are pleased to be a member of his taskforce.
“But making real progress will require leadership from central government. That is why we were very pleased to see all the main political parties making pledges to tackle rough sleeping in the run up to the general election. The Conservative party itself committed to halve rough sleeping by 2022, and end it completely by 2027.
“These figures today show that this ambitious aim will require further coordinated work across central, regional and local government, communities, health, welfare, police and housing agencies to make it a reality.
“Preventing more people coming on to the streets is a priority. Earlier this year the Homelessness Reduction Act was passed with cross-party support. Ministers must now implement the Act as quickly as possible and support local authorities to implement it in full.
“We also need to see a new national rough sleeping strategy which particularly focuses on the needs of those with a mental health problems and protects the funding for hostels that provide a vital route off the streets for homeless people.
“We are calling on the public to ask their MPs to press the government further on their commitment on rough sleeping.”