I have some good news. Homelessness will be ended soon. Which is something of a relief. The UK government is spending £2 billion over the next three years to get to its manifesto promise of ending rough sleeping by 2024. And if we have all learned anything about leading politicians in recent times, we know their word is their bond. So that’s all good.
In Scotland, the government is spending £100 million as part of its Ending Homelessness Together fund to eradicate homelessness by some time around 2026. The Welsh government is also committed to ending homelessness. Pretty soon, things will be rosy.
There are just a few snags to see to first. Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations, found there were 39 per cent fewer accommodation providers and 26 per cent fewer bed spaces for people experiencing homelessness in England in 2021 compared to 2010. It seems that years of austerity slashing through vital budgets across society has had a detrimental impact.
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This week, inconvenient truths came knocking. The number of people sleeping rough in London leapt up a third in a year. In Scotland, homelessness figures are at their highest since records began. Last year, 28,944 people asked their council for support with homelessness. Being kind, you could point to plans governments have made pre- and post-lockdown to get a grip. The Housing First policy for dealing with homelessness has had investment and has a future in Scotland. Last year they got to over 1,300 tenancies through the programme. They’ve banned evictions until the end of March.
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- The Great Social Housing Swindle: The human cost of the housing crisis
This has provided some security because the financial choking caused by the cost-of- living crisis is a reason for some of the mushrooming figures. People previously able to meet rents are struggling. But it’s a short-term fix.