For the first time in 40 years a Snap General Election has been called. I recently attended the Homeless Link Strategic Policy forum, along with other leading charities in the homeless sector, to discuss how the new government should tackle homelessness post-election.
On 27th April 2017, the Homelessness Reduction Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament. The Act places a new duty on local authorities to help prevent the homelessness of all families and single people, regardless of priority need - a huge shift in homelessness policy.
Homeless Link were therefore excited to host the Strategic Policy Forum this month, with a focus on the General Election and what this meant for the homelessness sector. We discussed the undeniable fact that homelessness is on the increase throughout the UK. And we put forward our views on the questions Homeless Link should be asking the new government following 8th June.
Homeless Link in conjunction with four leading homelessness charities – CentrePoint, St. Mungo’s, Crisis and Shelter – is calling for a cross-party commitment to reducing homelessness. The new rough sleeper’s initiative should act to end homelessness in three ways:
- Preventing people sleeping rough in the first place
- Providing a robust response to get people off the street
- Ensuring that people do not return to rough sleeping
The snap election was called just a month ago, leaving little time for the political parties to put together their manifestos. The Homeless Link policy forum provided a great opportunity to look at the manifestos of the main political parties in more detail, and inspire questions to ask the new government from across the homelessness sector.
Looking at the manifestos from each political party, it is clear the Homelessness Reduction Act has had some impact and reducing homelessness in the UK is now a priority for all parties.
- The Conservative party have pledged to halve the number of rough sleepers within 5 years and end rough sleeping within 10. The party have also committed to continuing the piloting of Housing First.
- The Labour party have pledged to build 4,000 new homes, ring-fenced for people who have had a history of rough sleeping.
- The Liberal Democrats have pledged to tackle the root causes of rough sleeping and also support the Housing First model.
I left feeling really positive that all three main parties were making pledges to reduce homelessness. However, there were still questions to consider, and it will be interesting to see the new government begins to enforce the Homelessness Reduction Act following the 8th June. Watch this space!