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I am glad that this is a general debate on housing, because it allows me to draw attention to the different directions of policy throughout the UK and the results of these policies. The UK Government have said that they want to reassure voters that they are taking the housing crisis seriously, yet the facts suggest the very opposite. I was actually quite happy to hear the Secretary of State say that the Government are looking into the Housing First scheme, which I believe was developed in Finland, and is about providing people with security and stability as a starting point. That seems like a step in the right direction, but again the facts show a different story. House building has fallen to its lowest level since the 1920s, evictions are at record levels, and a mere one in five council homes has been replaced when sold.
Crisis says that 9,100 people are sleeping rough across Great Britain at any one time. We see homeless people all the time. Quite often we pass them coming into work, at Portcullis House and the underground station. Crisis has said that unless there is a significant shift in Government policy, the number of rough sleepers is projected to increase by 76% in the next 10 years. When it surveyed councils for its report, “The homelessness monitor: England 2018”, it found that 70% said that they had difficulties in finding social housing for homeless people last year. It is important to stress that homelessness does not just mean rough sleeping, as I know that many Members are aware. It includes people staying with friends and family, and people living in overcrowded conditions or in poor conditions that affect their health.
In their manifesto for the general election, the Tories included a flagship pledge to build a new generation of social housing. Everybody knows that this is something the UK is crying out for, yet within weeks of the election the Government U-turned on that pledge.