No one should be forced to sleep on the streets. Yet every night, 5,000 people sleep rough across the UK. More than 700 people die while homeless each year. It is the most shameful example of the failure of our housing and welfare systems.
The Conservatives just don’t seem to care. They are sitting on their hands, failing to protect the most vulnerable people in society.
On their watch, rough sleeping in England has soared by 31% since 2015. They have failed to build enough social housing. They have made poverty worse by freezing benefits in 2015 and introducing the cruel two-child limit in 2017. They failed to abolish Section 21 “no fault” evictions, despite the evidence that they causes homelessness and despite promising to do so in April. And they blocked Liberal Democrat efforts to repeal the Vagrancy Act – a nasty, Dickensian law that criminalises people just for sleeping rough.
Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future by ending rough sleeping within five years.
The other parties pay lip service to this goal, but only the Liberal Democrats have a clear and credible plan to actually achieve it.
- Introduce a “somewhere safe to stay” duty on local authorities to provide immediate emergency accommodation to anyone at risk of sleeping rough.
- Repeal the Vagrancy Act, so rough sleeping is no longer criminalised.
- Increase housebuilding for social rent to 100,000 a year.
- Legislate for longer term tenancies and limits on annual rent increases, including abolishing Section 21 “no fault” evictions that can leave people homeless.
- Increase Local Housing Allowance so that benefits are more closely aligned to average rents in an area.
- Exempt groups from the lower Shared Accommodation Rate for housing benefit if they are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
- Put £6 billion a year into Universal Credit, including to:
- Reduce the wait for first payments from 5 weeks to 5 days.
- Abolish the two-child limit.
- Increase work allowances
- Give local authorities the funding they need to deliver their duties under the Homelessness Reduction Act to intervene to prevent homelessness and take reasonable steps to help homeless people into secure accommodation.
- Give local authorities the duty and funding to provide accommodation and support for survivors of domestic abuse.
- Ensure local authorities work with third sector providers to ensure secure shelter, refuge and confidential help services for LGBT+ people.
- Extend the “move on” period for refugees – the time after a grant of asylum before they lose asylum support & accommodation – from 28 days to 56, and place a duty on asylum accommodation providers to refer leavers who are at risk of homelessness to the local housing authority.
- Ensure all prison-leavers have suitable accommodation on release.
- Urgently publish a cross-Whitehall plan to end all forms of homelessness.