29 organisations from across the homelessness sector have signed and sent an open letter calling on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to take action on homelessness if elected as the next Prime Minister.
The letter was co-ordinated and sent by the charity Homeless Link on Tuesday 23rd August and was signed by 29 organisations from across the housing and homelessness sector, including Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s.
Within the letter, the organisations warn that, without decisive governmental action, the rising cost-of-living and a chronic shortage of affordable housing could force many more people into homelessness in the coming months.
It calls on the victorious leadership candidate to pledge to continue to strive to meet the Conservative manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping in England by 2024 and to publish a strategy by the end of 2022 to outline how they plan to achieve this.
Additionally, it calls on Truss or Sunak to ensure the full list of reforms outlined in the recent White Paper; ‘A fairer private rented sector’ is brought forward as legislation when parliament returns in September, including fulfilling the manifesto pledge of ending ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions.
The letter is sent at a time when inflation in the UK has risen to 10.1%, a forty year high. At the same time private sector rents are at record levels and are predicted to rise further and many homelessness services are reporting an increase in people needing their services.
Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations who co-ordinated the letter, said: “Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were elected on a Conservative party commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024, and yet, despite government figures showing homelessness increased by 11% in the first 3 months of this year, both leadership candidates have barely mentioned homelessness throughout their campaigns.
“It’s vital that when parliament returns next month, our new Prime Minister acts decisively to prevent a wave of homelessness.
“We hope that this letter, and the weight of concern it demonstrates from across the homelessness sector, will put the issue of homelessness back on their agenda, accelerating much needed reform of the private rented sector and setting out a clear plan to meet the target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.”
Rebecca Sycamore, interim CEO at St Mungo’s, said: “As a leading homelessness charity, we urge the Government to continue its efforts to meet its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024.
“Great work was achieved during the pandemic; with rough sleeping figures decreasing.
“The new Prime Minister, and their government, should continue to prioritise rough sleeping – especially considering the effect that the cost of living crisis is likely to have on the number of people facing and experiencing homelessness over the coming months.
“As expert service providers St Mungo’s will continue to work with central and local government – and our partners in the homelessness sector – to ensure that as many people as possible are prevented from coming to the streets or supported to leave them if they do.”
Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Our new Prime Minister must act swiftly and decisively to prevent soaring rates of homelessness becoming the tragic legacy of the difficult economic times we are in.
“People on the lowest incomes are straining under the weight of price increases they simply cannot afford.
“Confronted with very limited options to pay their rent or a crucial bill, many people are facing the terrifying reality of no longer being able to afford their home and are at real risk of homelessness if nothing is done.
“Investing in housing benefit so that it reflects real world costs and publishing an updated rough sleeping strategy must be a priority. It’s essential that this includes a plan to deliver the genuinely affordable homes we so desperately need.”
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