Housing

Homelessness tsar Dame Louise Casey awarded a peerage

The Rough Sleeping Taskforce chair will join Big Issue founder Lord John Bird as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords

Dame Louise Casey

Rough Sleeping Taskforce head Dame Louise Casey has been awarded a peerage by Boris Johnson.

The driving force behind the Government’s attempts to ensure no rough sleepers return to the streets following the Everyone In scheme, Dame Louise was awarded the honour over the weekend alongside former chancellor Philip Hammond, Theresa May’s husband Philip and the Prime Minister’s brother Jo Johnson. Evening Standard and Independent owner Evgeny Lebedev was also handed a peerage.

The honour will see Dame Louise, known as a homelessness tsar after her role in New Labour’s Rough Sleepers Unit, become a crossbench peer in the House of Lords where she will continue to work on tackling homelessness.

She will work alongside Big Issue founder Lord John Bird who has been a crossbench peer since 2015 and has tirelessly campaigned in the Lords against homelessness and poverty ever since.

Accepting the peerage, former civil servant Dame Louise said: “I accept it on behalf of all those I have worked with across 30 years of public and charitable service.

“I am determined to use this platform to continue to champion the interests of the poor, the left behind and those without a voice, to hold governments of any colour to account, and to speak without fear or favour on the issues that matter.”

As the Everyone In scheme sheltered 14,610 vulnerable people in hotels and other temporary accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic, Dame Louise spoke to The Big Issue about the experience of protecting rough sleepers from the virus.

She had been due to review the state of rough sleeping in England on behalf of the Government before the pandemic forced her to lead their efforts to prevent a return to the mass rough sleeping levels seen in recent years.

Dame Louise told The Big Issue: “We were chasing the virus just trying to stay ahead of it. When the inquiry eventually comes saying: ‘How did you do it? Why did you do it? And what choices did you make?’ We just went for it, everybody went for it. We had to get everybody in, we cannot have people dying on the streets.”

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