We are doing all we can to tackle homelessness

Clare Moonan
Clare Moonan

There has been a lot of questioning of the number of rough sleepers in the city of late! People say we are counting in the wrong way or we looked in the wrong places.

This is a smoke screen for those wanting to undermine the efforts being made, and distract from two inescapable truths. Firstly, that Tory austerity policies over the last 10 years have created a homelessness crisis and untold suffering, which is a disgrace to this country.

And secondly that despite this, the Labour administration with charities and the community have managed to reduce significantly the numbers who are on our streets at night.

Make no mistake, every week many new people are still being forced into rough sleeping due to out-of-control rents, universal credit, insecure jobs and a chronically underfunded NHS.

But we have worked steadily with our partners to put in place the services that are helping people to turn their lives around, and our ongoing monitoring of the numbers of rough sleepers has seen a steady reduction as new initiatives have rolled out.

Just this week we have identified new money from within the council budget which we propose to use to fund an all year round night shelter. We are also preventing more people than ever becoming homeless by working with them much earlier, whilst we are also providing the largest number of new council homes the city has seen in decades.

Unlike our neighbouring Tory authorities in East and West Sussex, Labour will prioritise homeless prevention. This is despite the massive cuts to our overall budget, which are in no way mitigated by recent short term grants by a government finally forced to see who is literally sleeping on their own doorstep.

But a national homelessness crisis cannot be solved by one single local authority, or by a city full of willing volunteers who are desperate to help.

We need a government that is willing to provide a decent home and a secure well paid job for everyone, and a properly funded welfare system as well.