Rough Sleeping

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 25th February 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Robert Jenrick Robert Jenrick The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 12:34 pm, 25th February 2021

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his very long-standing commitment to this issue. On one of my first nights in this position, he and I went out on to the streets in the west end, and it was one of the most interesting and important visits I have done over the past 18 months. He is right to say that our ambition should be that as a civilised society nobody should feel the need to sleep rough on the streets and that we should be addressing the causes of rough sleeping, which I think are primarily related to health; this is about drugs, alcohol misuse and mental health. We need to be tackling those causes, which is what we intend to do over the course of this year, bringing together the relevant parts of government to have the most coherent, holistic strategy we have ever had. The statistics speak for themselves: 60% of those sleeping rough have serious substance misuse issues; 49% need drugs support; 23% need alcohol support; and 82% have mental health vulnerabilities. So that has to be our focus going forward: the marriage of health and housing, for the first time.

My hon. Friend also makes a point, which was alluded to by the shadow spokesperson, as to why we had not managed to get every individual off the streets even during the height of our efforts with Everyone In. There are some people who, for a range of reasons, are exceptionally difficult to persuade to come in off the streets. Sadly, we will never live in a country where there is not a single person sleeping rough on the streets, but the litmus test for a civilised society must be that nobody has the need to do so and that everybody is offered support swiftly—this is about not so much no second night out, but no first night out.