Labour pledges shelter for every rough sleeper during freezing weather
Emergency shelter would be provided for every rough sleeper in freezing weather under a Labour government, the party has announced.
Councils and charities will be expected to ensure those living on the streets avoid bitterly cold nights through extra cash from a new Rough Sleepers Cold Weather Fund.
The party says an estimated 484 people have died homeless since October last year, including during the ‘beast from the east’ spell which hit the country in February and March.
And they revealed that one in four severe weather services had to turn rough sleepers away last winter.
Labour says the fund, set at £100m in the first year, will be paid for through their planned second homes levy, in which homeowners could see their council tax bill doubled.
The cash will also go towards putting those using the shelters in touch with health and housing support to keep them off the streets for good, they say.
Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said it was a “national shame” that thousands are forced to spend the night on park benches and shop doorways during the cold months.
“It beggars belief that there is no guarantee of basic emergency accommodation for these people during cold weather,” he said.
“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.
“Labour will 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.”
Meanwhile the Government announced £5m of investment to help create eleven rough-sleeping hubs across the country from next spring.
The Somewhere Safe to Stay centres will offer shelter and support for those sleeping rough and facing issues such as mental health problems and substance misuse, ministers say.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “No one should ever have to face a night on the streets, and as a government we are taking steps to ensure people are never faced with this as their only option.
“These are vulnerable people, who may be dealing with complex mental health problems or addictions and require specialist help to tackle these issues and turn their lives around.
“That’s why these vital new hubs will ensure those on the streets have access to professional help and guidance to start their recovery.”