Ending homelessness together - a new shared vision for the new year
Since we launched Everybody In: How to end homelessness in June last year, we’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about the different solutions it covers. And with the full plan being 500 pages (don’t worry, there’s a mini-version if you’re short on time), that means a lot of solutions. From building enough social homes (100,500 each year for the next 15 years), to improving welfare support, including making sure Local Housing Allowance truly covers the cost of rent. From making sure support is available to everybody who needs it, including migrants and those fleeing domestic abuse, to making sure we’re not pushing people further from that support – for example, by scrapping the Vagrancy Act, the only piece of legislation that criminalises the act of rough sleeping.
There are many reasons why people lose their home. When rising pressure from high rents and low incomes becomes too much, a sudden increase in pressure, like losing a job, becoming ill, or leaving home to get out of an abusive relationship, can quickly force people into homelessness. Homelessness is a complex problem, so it’s no surprise the solutions are so diverse. But although they’re wide-ranging, the solutions outlined in Everybody In: How to end homelessness all have one thing in common: they can end homelessness, but cross-party support is needed to make them a reality.
So it was refreshing to hear that message at our New Year Reception in parliament on 16th January come not just from our members, and from others in the sector, but from politicians themselves. Alongside our member ambassadors Shirley and Tony, we were pleased to hear from both Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire MP, and Shadow Housing Minister John Healey MP, on their aspirations for ending homelessness. And both of them – perhaps inspired by the powerful words from our member ambassadors – articulated the need to work together to end homelessness. John said he was pleased that he and James were in the room together, as the concern that we all share, to see an end to homelessness, is a moral concern that we share irrespective of political party, just like the commitment needed to end homelessness should be. James echoed that message, and the need for us to work together to make that long-term, sustained difference.
Watch a short film of our New Year reception:
We know what can be achieved when political parties put their differences aside and work together towards a common goal. The Homelessness Reduction Act, the biggest change to homelessness legislation in 40 years, came about when politicians from all parties endorsed Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill. By working together Wales improved the support available to people under threat of homelessness with a pioneering change to the law. And in Scotland, the government’s new Action Plan for Ending Homelessness Together has received cross-party backing – the very first plan in Great Britain aiming to end homelessness in all its forms.
So at the beginning of a new year, despite Westminster in disarray over Brexit, it’s heartening to hear politicians unite over a shared vision of ending homelessness. Let’s make 2019 the year it becomes a reality.
We know homelessness isn’t inevitable. But in order to truly end all forms of homelessness, long-term action, and truly cross-government working, will be needed. With enough political will and commitment, we can end homelessness once and for all. But we need Everybody In to make it happen. Are you in?
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