London’s next mayor must use their powers better to tackle homelessness

A new campaign is calling on mayoral candidates to lead a new drive to end rough sleeping

 

A new survey has revealed that nearly three-quarters of Londoners (72 per cent) think the city’s next mayor should do more to tackle homelessness, with seven-in-ten Londoners saying that they are ‘appalled’ by the scale of homelessness in the capital.

Just 13 per cent say they feel enough is being done to combat homelessness and rough sleeping, and 61 per cent agree that the number of homeless people in London is increasing.

The polling for YouGov was commissioned by Lead London Home, a campaign launched today by 21 London homelessness charities including Crisis, St.Mungo’s, Centrepoint and Homeless Link.

The campaign is calling for pledges from all mayoral candidates to lead the way on tackling homelessness.

Last year more than 7,500 people were seen sleeping rough in London by outreach teams – including 880 under-25s. This constitutes a substantial rise on recent years; research by Crisis shows that rough sleeping in 2014/15 has almost doubled since six years ago.

Meanwhile, the loss of a private tenancy is now the number one cause of homelessness in the capital, accounting for 39 per cent of those accepted as homeless in London in 2014/15.

Lead London Home points out that the mayor has significant powers to tackle homelessness, including a £34 million budget and the ability to bring boroughs and services together. The campaign says that:

“While Boris Johnson has made significant strides – including the launch of innovative and successful services like No Second Night Out – the next mayor must show even greater ambition to tackle this growing problem.”

Lead London Home is urging all mayoral candidates to support a six-step homelessness manifesto, and calls on the next mayor of London to:

1. Lead a new drive to end rough sleeping, including providing at least 2,000 homes and a Housing First programme for former rough sleepers.

2. Prioritise homelessness prevention and support calls for a new law so that no one can be turned away by councils to sleep on the streets.

3. Increase access to private rented sector housing and tenancy support for people on the lowest incomes.

4. End destitution by working across the European Union to find solutions to EU nationals sleeping on the streets.

5. Embed the needs of homeless people at the heart of London’s public services.

6. Fight for a better deal for London to mitigate the negative impact of welfare reform on people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said:

“Londoners care deeply about homelessness, with 10,000 alone volunteering at Crisis at Christmas centres last month. It is time for the candidates to show that they take this issue as seriously as those who will be voting in May.

“London is one of the wealthiest cities in the world – the fact it is facing such a rise in homelessness is nothing short of a scandal. By pledging to Lead London Home the next mayor will be pledging to arrest this rise and to help the thousands of people who find themselves homeless each year.”

St Mungo’s chief executive Howard Sinclair said:

“This is about building on the success of No Second Night Out and other services to support people off the street quickly, and not letting complex problems around poor mental health and substance use force people to stay stuck sleeping rough.

“It is also about investing in Housing First and other accommodation options so former rough sleepers can move on with their lives.

“In addition, we want the next mayor to work with the London boroughs to ensure people at risk of homelessness get the help they need before the worst happens.”

The campaign has launched a petition to help put pressure on the mayoral candidates, which can be signed here.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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