Oldham MP backs Labour's radical plan to tackle homelessness

Date published: 24 December 2018

Following the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that nearly 600 homeless people died on the streets or in temporary accommodation across England and Wales in 2017, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has been keen to highlight Labour’s radical new national offer of emergency shelter for every rough sleeper during cold weather.

Mrs Abrahams said: “To our national shame, thousands of people will sleep rough on park benches and shop doorways this winter.

"It beggars belief that there is no guarantee of basic emergency accommodation for these people during cold weather. 

“Rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010 as a direct result of decisions made by Conservative ministers, and the problem is getting worse.

“Labour’s plan will save lives and needs to be put in place now.

“We’ll give every rough sleeper a roof over their head, and tackle the root causes of rising homelessness with an end to the freeze on benefits, new rights for renters and a million low-cost homes.

“Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has already started a brilliant scheme called A Bed Every Night, meaning there will be a bed every night for every single person who sleeps rough in Greater Manchester. 

Rough sleeping has risen every year since 2010

“And it’s more than just a bed. As well as a roof over their heads, they will have a hot meal, a hot shower, and someone who can give them help and support to move off the streets and into a home where they have dignity, hope and a future.

“That’s the Labour way of dealing with issues, taking action, and Andy is leading from the front on homelessness and making a real difference to people’s lives.” 

Figures collected by the Government reveal that, in the North West alone, 434 people slept rough on the street on one night last year, up 334% since 2010.

Since October last year, an estimated 484 people have died homeless, including during the ‘beast from the east’ cold spell between February and March last year. Last winter one in four severe weather services had to turn rough sleepers away.

Under Labour’s plans, funding will be provided for emergency accommodation in every area, for every rough sleeper whenever local temperatures are set to fall below freezing. 

The new national offer will be funded through a new Rough Sleepers Cold Weather Fund, set at £100m in the first year, and paid for by a previously announced second homes levy.

As well as extra emergency shelter, this will also fund keyworkers to link rough sleepers with health and housing support to keep them off the streets for good, given that cold weather enables contact with rough sleepers that are otherwise hard to reach. 

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