Politics

Shaun Bailey backs Housing First and sets out plans to tackle homelessness

Bailey said London needed a "homes first" policy and said he advocated the Housing First model pioneered in Finland

Shaun Bailey

The Conservative party's candidate for London Mayor Shaun Bailey, visits FM Conway - Erith Asphalt Plant & Erith Wharf. Image credit: Gustavo Valiente / Parsons Media

Shaun Bailey, the controversial Conservative candidate for London mayor, has said he backs Housing First and, if elected, would lobby the Government to get as many rough sleepers off the streets as possible. 

Bailey, who is up for election against Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan in May, highlighted his own experiences of homelessness and revealed he had once spent the evening on a night bus during a period of sofa surfing. 

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“I would have to say it’s the most afraid I’ve ever been. And let’s be fair, I’ve had people run at me with baseball bats, I’ve had umpteen different knives and stuff pulled on me – nothing compared to the terror of not having somewhere to stay,” he told The Big Issue in a new interview

Bailey said London needed a “homes first” policy and said he advocated the Housing First model pioneered in Finland, where people experiencing homelessness are given a home regardless of circumstance and provided with wraparound support. 

He said he was “seeking the platform” and would lobby the Government to build on the strengths of the Everyone In scheme and get as many people off the streets as possible.

He also accused Sadiq Khan of “playing politics” and added he would work constructively with the Government if elected.

“One of the failings of Sadiq Khan and where he needs a fresh start and fresh thinking is to go to the Government and say ‘here’s what London’s doing, can the Government please match this?’ and hopefully do more,” Bailey said. 

“When you just go and bang on the door and ask for money, they tell you ‘no, we’ve given you £18 billion, try and do something with that’.

“Sadiq Khan last year asked for £29 billion in additional funding, he knows that’s unrealistic but he’s just playing politics.” 

Bailey has had a bumpy start to 2021. In January, he told Inside Housing that people experiencing homelessness should save to buy a property through Shared Ownership to fix their predicament. In a London Assembly committee meeting in March, he said some people would use Universal Basic Income to buy drugs.

Both comments drew widespread condemnation but Bailey said his words were “misrepresented”.

The Everyone In scheme supported 37,000 people off the streets in total during the first wave of the Covid crisis. In London, local leaders said the scheme had helped contribute to getting eight of ten rough sleepers inside for good. 

Bailey said he would build on this work but urged caution on the timetable.

He added: “The first step is to support charities and specialist work but the second step is to just provide enough homes in the first place.

“One of the weirdest things about my sofa-surfing, I would say that the entire time I had a job. 

“That shows you that we need to provide a decent lower tier of housing from a cost point of view.” 

Read The Big Issue’s full interview with Shaun Bailey here.

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