Sir Kevin Barron demands Government action after number of rough sleepers in UK doubles in eight years

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Homelessness and rough sleeping are not inevitable in a country as decent and well-off as the UK, writes Sir Kevin Barron MP.

Yet since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled, with the latest statistics confirming there has been a 169 per cent increase.

I believe these figures are a terrible reminder of eight years of failure on housing which has seen a steep drop in investment for new affordable homes, billions of pounds cut from housing benefit, inaction on short-term lets, soaring rents in the private rented sector, and significant cuts to funding for homelessness services. 

The Secretary of State for Housing has confirmed that the Government’s rough sleeping strategy contains no additional funding to tackle rough sleeping.

If Ministers are serious about ending rough sleeping, I believe they should back Labour’s plans to make 8,000 affordable homes immediately available for people with a history of sleeping on the streets.

At the last election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged to end rough sleeping within five years and prevent the need for anyone to sleep rough on the streets.

This included commitments to build one million genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy to give those on low incomes more options for a place to stay.

More widely, I believe action is required to tackle the root causes of rising homeless-ness.

Eviction or default from a private tenancy is now the single biggest cause of homelessness.

I support ending the current practice of ‘no-fault’ evictions and action to strengthen tenants’ rights by bringing forward a consumer rights revolution for renters.

This would ensure more secure tenancies, new legal minimum standards and controls on rent rises.