Changing Lives has signed an open letter calling on Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to take action on homelessness if elected as the next Prime Minister.
Changing Lives is a national charity, supporting thousands of people in the most challenging of circumstances each year. This includes people with experiences of homelessness, abuse and exploitation, addiction and long-term unemployment.
The letter was co-ordinated and sent by the charity Homeless Link on Tuesday 23rd August and was signed by 28 organisations from across the housing and homelessness sector, including Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s.
It calls on the victorious leadership candidate to pledge to continue to strive to meet the Conservative manifesto commitment of ending rough sleeping in England by 2024 and to publish a strategy by the end of 2022 to outline how they plan to achieve this.
Additionally, it calls on Truss or Sunak to ensure the full list of reforms outlined in the recent White Paper; ‘A fairer private rented sector’ is brought forward as legislation when parliament returns in September, including fulfilling the manifesto pledge of ending ‘no fault’ Section 21 evictions.
The letter is sent at a time when inflation in the UK has risen to 10.1%, a forty year high. At the same time private sector rents are at record levels and are predicted to rise further and many homelessness services are reporting an increase in people needing their services.
Almost two-thirds of Changing Lives services have said that the rising cost of living has affected people’s housing circumstances. Of these, almost 90% have reported an increase in the number of people they support resorting to sofa surfing or other forms of hidden homelessness, and 80% have reported an increase in the number of people who are rough sleeping.
Just over 75% said they have seen an increase in the number of the people they support being evicted or threatened with eviction, with a third saying they are supporting people in the services who have been evicted or threatened with eviction for the first time.
Stephen Bell OBE, CEO of Changing Lives, said: “Our vision for a housing and homelessness system is to make sure everyone is provided with their own home and their own front door without having to prove themselves or jump through hoops.
“We are rightly proud of our housing model, which we believe is right for the people we support and gives them the best possible chance of moving forward with their lives. However, the rising cost of living is making this much more difficult – already we are seeing people struggling to afford the costs of living independently, which is devastating to see.”
Rick Henderson, CEO at Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness organisations who co-ordinated the letter, said:
“Both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were elected on a Conservative party commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024, and yet, despite government figures showing homelessness increased by 11% in the first 3 months of this year, both leadership candidates have barely mentioned homelessness throughout their campaigns.
“It’s vital that when parliament returns next month, our new Prime Minister acts decisively to prevent a wave of homelessness. We hope that this letter, and the weight of concern it demonstrates from across the homelessness sector, will put the issue of homelessness back on their agenda, accelerating much needed reform of the private rented sector and setting out a clear plan to meet the target of ending rough sleeping by 2024.”