Labour has pledged to try to greatly reduce the number of people sleeping rough by doubling the number of homes reserved for those who have been homeless, calling on the government to introduce this measure immediately.
The scheme, announced by the shadow housing minister, John Healey, would see the charity-run Clearing House scheme to provide secure accommodation for former rough sleepers expanded and set up in new locations.
Currently the charity St Mungo’s has 3,750 flats across London intended for people with a history of rough sleeping, operating the scheme on behalf of the Greater London Authority.
Healey said the Labour scheme would involve another 4,000 properties set aside for people who have been homeless in cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Manchester.
These would be let at “genuinely affordable social rents”, the announcement said, and those housed would need to be either British nationals or otherwise eligible for social housing.
Labour argues that since changes to the law in 2011, those who have been homeless are more likely to be housed in private rented homes, which offer less security and a greater likelihood of them ending up back on the streets.
The party’s statement noted that the officially recorded number of rough sleepers – generally seen as an underestimate – reached a low in 2009 of 464, but had now risen to 3,569. Earlier this month, a homeless man was found dead in Birmingham following the coldest night of the year.