St Martins has signed 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 28 organisations from across the housing and homelessness sector, including Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s.
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.
In Norwich the Pathways team, a service supporting people sleeping rough in partnership with eight local organisations led by St Martins verified 23 people sleeping rough in the month of July and 21 people in August.
Dr Jan Sheldon CEO of St Martins said:
“We are seeing an increase in the need for the services we provide and, sadly I don’t see this situation getting any better at the moment. In fact, as winter sets in and the cost of living becomes even more expensive, I expect the situation to reach a crisis point. What we see in Norwich echoes that of the rest of the UK where people are forced into homelessness because they simply cannot afford to stay in their accommodation. Action needs to be taken to urgently address this issue by central government.”
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.”