Labour say Tories are 'directly responsible' for homeless people dying on streets

4 December 2019, 23:55

Labour accused the Tories of being "directly responsible" for rough sleepers
Labour accused the Tories of being "directly responsible" for rough sleepers. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Labour Party has accused the Conservatives of creating policies that are "directly responsible" for people living and dying on the streets.

Jeremy Corbyn's party has announced its plans to end rough sleeping in England by the end of the next Parliament.

Labour have vowed to tackle the homelessness crisis within five years as part of a "moral mission" if it wins the upcoming general election.

The party has pledged a multibillion-pound scheme which it believes is the boldest the country has seen in 20 years.

Official figures show that rough sleeping has more than doubled since the Conservative Party came to power in 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of people dying while rough sleeping increased to 726 in England and Wales last year.

Labour's plans include building thousands of new homes under a "housing first" model that would seek to get people off the streets whatever their situation.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: "Rising homelessness shames us all in a country as well-off as ours.

"It shames the Conservative Party most of all because it is Conservative decisions to slash funding for hostels, housing benefit, homelessness services and new homes that are directly responsible for this increase in people living and dying on our streets.

"We need a new moral mission to save lives this winter and end rough sleeping within five years."

Labour say it is a "moral mission" to save lives this winter
Labour say it is a "moral mission" to save lives this winter. Picture: PA

Jeremy Corbyn's party has promised a £600 million "modern hostels fund" to provide quality homeless accommodation, while a further £200 million would be spent on upgrading existing hostels.

The proposals, mapped out over five years, would create an extra 5,000 bed spaces for rough sleepers.

Each year, the Labour leader would set aside £100 million for emergency winter shelters and £1 billion would be given to councils to pay for staffing, support and funding to relink local housing allowance with local rents.

A further 8,000 homes would be built for getting people back into accommodation and out of hostels, with the cash for the houses coming out of its £150 billion social transformation fund.

Mr Corbyn said: "One person sleeping rough is one too many. No-one wants to live in a society where thousands of homeless people are left out in the cold on the streets.

"Labour will save lives this winter and end rough sleeping within five years. That's real change."

Mr Corbyn wants to end rough sleeping altogether
Mr Corbyn wants to end rough sleeping altogether. Picture: PA

A Shelter report this week suggested 135,000 children in Britain will be homeless and living in temporary accommodation this Christmas.

All three main parties have pledged to end rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament, but their means differ.

A Conservative spokeswoman said they would raise stamp duty for foreign buyers, with the £120 million expected proceeds being put towards tackling homelessness.

"Under the Conservatives, there is record investment going in to tackling homelessness - £1.2 billion until April 2020 with a further £422 million for 2020-21," she added.

"A Conservative majority government will get Brexit done and focus on tackling homelessness by expanding successful programmes like housing first and the rough sleeping initiative, which has proven effective in reducing rough sleeping in areas where it is running."

The Liberal Democrats would introduce a duty on local authorities to provide immediate emergency accommodation and end no-fault evictions under the party's plans to end rough sleeping.