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Rough Sleeping

Volume 664: debated on Tuesday 1 October 2019

7. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the adequacy of funding allocated to tackling rough sleeping. (912453)

The Government remain committed to ending rough sleeping. That is why I announced £54 million of new funding to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping in last month’s spending round, following on from discussions with my right hon. Friend the Housing Secretary, which will take total resource funding to £422 million next year.

It has been revealed today that two rough sleepers died on the streets every day last year. The Government committed to halving rough sleeping by 2022, but their own guesstimate is that it fell by only 74 people last year, not the 500 required for them to be on target. That puts them three decades behind schedule, so when will the Treasury provide councils and homelessness charities with sufficient funds to properly tackle this national shame?

This is an important issue, and I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised it today. He will know that there are multiple causes of rough sleeping, which means that we need action across Government. That is why the Government have set out a rough sleeping initiative to deal with the causes, such as mental health, family breakdown and addictions. I think he will appreciate that we need cross-Government work. That needs to be properly funded. The £422 million that I referred to a moment ago is a 13% real-terms increase, and it will end rough sleeping by 2022.

Many people going to work today, not just in London but in cities and towns across England, will have seen at least one fellow citizen sleeping rough. Eight thousand beds have been lost, universal credit has cost tenants their homes, and as we have heard, 726 people died on the streets last year. Charities say that the funding gap is £1 billion. The Chancellor has said that ending rough sleeping is in our gift, but how many more of our fellow citizens will have slept on our streets before he delivers?

I hope that the hon. Lady welcomes the extra resources being put into fighting homelessness and rough sleeping—as I said, a 13% real-terms increase. She might recall that when I was Housing Secretary, we introduced new programmes to deal properly with rough sleeping, for example the Housing First pilots that are taking place in three parts of our country and showing real resource. We are starting to see falls in rough sleeping for the first time in a number of years, and I think the British people would appreciate cross-party co-operation on this very important issue.