Shaun Bailey: The Chancellor must provide investment to eradicate the blight of homelessness
Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey writes about his hope that the Budget tomorrow will bring further investment in the fight against homelessness.
While the Chancellor will no doubt have received many upon many asks ahead of the Budget, and with the potential impacts of the coronavirus outbreak to contend with, Rishi Sunak will be a man having to balance many concerns. But one thing I hope that will get both attention and investment in the Budget tomorrow is the fight against homelessness, which is what I put directly to the Chancellor when I met him yesterday.
Whereas in cities such as Manchester, rough sleeping is falling, in London it has continued to rise sharply.
I have made it my number one priority to make London safe, and that has to start with protecting our most vulnerable residents.
There is an inherent danger to sleeping rough that cannot be overstated. It makes the homeless and rough sleeping community one of the most vulnerable in our society. Too often they are victims of crime and violence, as repeatedly highlighted by Crisis, and this is because of the tough reality of being homeless. No protection, no sanctuary and utterly exposed all the time.
It pains me to see but as crime has risen across the capital in recent years, violent attacks on the homeless have also increased.
The homeless are particularly vulnerable to being caught in the tide of rising violent crime on our streets, which is why I would like to see an obligation on the police to keep a record of attacks against homeless people. This currently doesn’t happen but doing it would give the police a fuller picture of the extent of these attacks and how best to tackle them.
It is not just crime where the homeless are left particularly vulnerable. Take coronavirus. The homeless community are again especially exposed, unable to isolate, exposed to the elements, many with existing health issues and conditions, lacking the resources for even the most basic preventative measures.
And the fact is once you find yourself out on the streets, it can be immeasurably hard to get back on your feet. Try opening a bank account, or getting ready for a job interview, or getting medical care without an address or access to things like the internet. It is nigh on impossible and leaves individuals stuck within a cycle which binds them to the streets.
There was a period in my twenties where I found myself with no place to live, but luckily I did have places through friends and family to get mail sent to and to register a bank account.
That’s why for me, I want to see investment focus on not just getting a temporary roof over someone’s head, but more permanent places where homeless people can base themselves, establish an address and start to rebuild their lives.
I’m afraid Sadiq Khan has been unable or unwilling to work with the government to address London’s most pressing issues, instead preferring to pick fights with the government over Brexit. Even where the government has provided him with additional funding, such as the £5billion he has been given to build affordable homes, he has simply failed to deliver.
I would be a Mayor able to work constructively with this government to make sure we tackle the big issues facing our capital city, such as homelessness and making London safe for everyone. That’s why I have asked the Chancellor for further investment in eradicating the blight of homelessness in the Budget tomorrow.
Shaun Bailey is the candidate of the Conservative Party for the 2020 London mayoral election. He has been a member of the London Assembly.