October 14, 2016

We must address the homelessness epidemic

We must address the homelessness epidemic

We should look to our European neighbours for lessons on how to tackle the scourge of homelessness in England, says Brooks Newmark. 

Without a secure, stable home people can struggle to maintain employment or provide the sort of home that is crucial for the nurture and flourishing of children.

A lack of affordable housing, family breakdown, substance abuse and mental illness can have a devastating effect on someone’s life chances, entrenching disadvantage and often contributing to the loss of a home. And when homeless things can get worse.

In relation to substance abuse, the London CHAIN rough sleeper database found that last year 43 per cent of rough sleepers had an alcohol support need and just over three in ten had a drugs support need. However, the factors contributing to homelessness are not insurmountable. The issue becomes one of political will. If we can come up with over £2 trillion to bail out the banks, for a fraction of one percent of that number, I believe we can eradicate homelessness in England.

Homelessness remains a blight on our society and over the past 30 years I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of rough sleeping and homelessness through my voluntary work in the sector, usually at soup kitchens and more recently with Crisis at Christmas.

Since leaving Parliament in 2015 I decided to focus on tackling homelessness.  To this end I am chairing a working group of sector experts at the Centre for Social Justice. We will produce a report early next year which seeks to bottom out the real numbers of homelessness, look at best practice at home and abroad and come up with a costed and effective solution.

I am confident that we can see homelessness eradicated in England and there are many successful examples to look to for inspiration.

In recent years, Wales has looked to tackle homelessness with the Welsh Housing Act. This has seen stronger prevention measures and relief duties for eligible homeless households. While it is still early days, government statistics show the new model is working, with the number of households who lose their home falling by approximately two thirds.

In Westminster, Conservative MP Bob Blackman has introduced a Private Member’s Bill which, reflecting the Welsh model, places a stronger duty on local authorities to prevent homelessness and provide single people with access to emergency accommodation if they have nowhere safe to stay. It has been estimated that the measures in this Bill would require an additional £44 million, however this would be offset by a £47 million reduction in spending on people who are already homeless. The Centre for Social Justice has encouraged the Government to consider it and I am urging MPs to turn out to support this Bill when it comes before Parliament on 28 October. If it passes, this Bill will be an important step in reducing and preventing homelessness in this country.

The British Legion and other military charities have managed to tackle homelessness for ex-military personnel over the past decade with the percentage of rough sleepers who were in the forces dropping to around three per cent. Furthermore, Finland has significantly reduced homelessness with its Housing First model which provides immediate, permanent accommodation and wraparound support to help people maintain their tenancy.

Most homeless people I have met want a home. Somewhere to live is the first step to both resolving their health issues and finding a job. Without somewhere to live, an individual cannot begin his or her recovery.

The Prime Minister has said she wants social justice as the centrepiece of her premiership. I say amen to that. However, we need action and, yes, money to follow these words.

As a society we have a responsibility to our poorest and most vulnerable people.

5.00 avg. rating (95% score) - 2 votes
Brooks Newmark
Brooks Newmark was the MP for Braintree until 2015 and former Minister for Civil Society. He is now leading the Centre for Social Justice working group on homelessness.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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