Cllr Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth’s Labour Leader, has criticised the Government after new homelessness statistics showed that 37 people slept rough on the streets in Portsmouth on one night in 2016, up from 5 in 2010.
The official figures show that across England homelessness has more than doubled since 2010, and risen by 50% in the last two years alone. This means that street homelessness has risen every year under the Conservatives.
Under the Labour government from 1997-2010, rough sleeping fell by three-quarters and the number of households accepted as homeless by councils across England fell by almost two-thirds.
The new rough sleeping statistics come as ministers are under increasing pressure to publish their delayed housing white paper – a housing policy relaunch after seven years of failure on housing on all fronts.
Labour has warned that homelessness will not be significantly reduced unless the causes of rising homelessness in the last seven years are tackled. The Party has set out how Conservative cuts and decisions since 2010 have led directly to higher homelessness:
- cuts to housing benefit support worth over £5bn since 2010 – thirteen separate cuts to housing benefit over the last five years, including the bedroom tax and breaking the link between housing benefit for private renters (local housing allowance) and private rents;
- cuts to ‘supporting people’ which funds homelessness services – the National Audit Office have revealed that this vital funding fell by 45% between 2010 and 2015;
- soaring private rents – averaging more than £2000 extra each year than at the same point 2010; and;
- the loss of affordable homes – with over 140,000 fewer council homes than in 2010, and the number of new government funded homes for started for social rent falling from nearly 40,000 in 2009/10 to less than 1,000 last year.
Cllr Stephen Morgan said:
“Labour is calling on the Government to get to grips with the scandal of rising homelessness across the country.
“Here in Portsmouth we’re involved in a task group to tackle the issues the city faces.
“With such a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough, homelessness must become everyone’s business.”
Last weekend Cllr Morgan went out on night patrol across the city centre with the police in order to talk with people sleeping rough on the city’s streets and understand local homeless issues.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP said:
“The scale of rising homelessness should shame us all. The number of people sleeping on the streets fell under Labour but has doubled with Conservative Ministers in charge.
These figures are a terrible reminder of the consequences of Conservative Ministers’ seven years of failure on housing.
The Government’s long-promised housing white paper will fall at the first hurdle if it does not set out how they will end the national disgrace of rough sleeping, as Labour has committed to do.”